2012: communication, communication, communication !
Jeudi, 05 Janvier 2012 09:14

ooievaar Raaf


The first word on the front page of the first newspaper I saw on Monday, January 2, was ‘conflict’. Another newspaper opened on its front page with a message from the president of the Flemish Government: Flanders will have to do more cost cutting.


For me, the year started with crisis communication. One of my customers specialized in transport and logistics sent me a message at 6 o’clock in the morning that the members of the socialist union were blocking the entrance for the trucks at one of their plants. The union people knew their job. They had already sent a press release to the press agency Belga and at 8 o’clock the action was already posted on the websites of different newspapers and an hour later a TV crew arrived on site, journalists called to speak to the managing director (who was on holiday). What to do? Call the helpline: me.


Fortunately, different people in the company were prepared to handle such situations. They had participated in a media training where they learned how to respond to the media and how to give an interview for television and radio, in two languages, French and Dutch. In the training session we also taught them not to panic. It is better to ask for a time-out and promise the journalists you will call them back. (And do so).


The HR director and his collaborators started negotiations with the union people and by noon they reached an agreement. The blockade was lifted and the trucks could leave the plant to deliver their customers. The press release was finalized and sent to the press agency and the journalists that had contacted the company were called and informed. Soon after, the first articles were on the news websites: “Agreement reached between unions and X.”


No doubt that in 2012 a lot of companies will face similar situations because of the general economical crisis, the budget restrictions, cost cuts imposed by the government and … because we have social elections this year. Employees have to elect their union representatives for the coming years in their company. The unions and their candidates will want to prove themselves.

Be prepared. Bad communication is the worst that can happen to a company and it is avoidable. Experienced PR people who know the media can make the difference. They know how to handle a crisis situation and turn the negative coverage into a positive message.

Professional communication is crucial for the success (or survival) of a company or organization.

I wish everybody a good communications year !