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From the Queen’s Speech to the next election: what now for the government’s agenda?
From the Queen’s Speech to the next election: what now for the Government’s agenda?

Archive for the ‘Crisis Management’ Category

The secret to a great media interview: preparation

The biggest tip anyone can be given ahead of an upcoming media interview is prepare, prepare, prepare. No matter how well you know the topic, your business, or feel like you already know what you want to say during the interview, nothing overrides the essential need to prepare.

Know your key messages

Henry Kissinger once famously opened a press conference saying: ‘Does anyone have any questions for my answers?’ Kissinger clearly knew what messages he wanted to convey, and was ready to deliver his points regardless of the questions thrown at him.

When preparing for an interview, make sure you plan the three main points you want to get across. These key messages should be the answers you keep coming back to again and again during your interview.

To define these key messages, imagine you are reading the published article after your interview and the story includes only three or four sentences quoting you – what do you hope these sentences say? These are your key messages.

Make these messages sharp and know them inside out.

Anticipate the questions you’ll be asked

Even if you’re about to do a ‘friendly’ interview, take the time to think through the tough questions you’ll be asked – it’s better to think through these questions and practise how you want to respond, rather than be caught off guard during the interview.

Not only should you think through the easy and tough questions that might come your way on the interview topic itself, but you should also ask yourself what else the journalist could touch on.

What else is going on in your company? Are there any historical issues in your company that the journalist might bring up? What’s happening in the wider sector they might ask you to comment on? What are your competitors up to? What else is generally in the news today that they might ask your opinion on?

Now it’s time to practise

You now know the key messages you want to focus on during the interview. You have thought extensively about the questions that could come your way. Now it’s time to practise.

No matter how experienced you are at media interviews, take the time to rehearse and practise in advance with a communications adviser or experienced colleague.

Practise your answers to the easy questions to make sure you are succinctly communicating the story you want to tell – don’t assume you’ll get it right the first time because people usually don’t.

And then make sure you have a wide range of tougher questions thrown at you, so you become confident in how you will handle them, and comfortable with the message you’re giving.

 

Media interviews are an essential communication tool for organisations and business leaders – and learning how to handle them successfully is an acquired skill. Preparation and practise are essential, always. Make sure this time is protected in your diary ahead of a media interview to give yourself the best chance of success.

To find out more about WA’s media training workshops, contact Sarah Gullo.

 

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Top 10 tips for communicating business restructuring and change

Is this the new normal?

With a 20% drop in GDP, the end of the furlough scheme in sight and economic storm clouds ahead, business leaders are assessing the impact of the pandemic on their organisations and planning the changes they will need to make for what will be a new normal for corporate Britain.

While every business is unique and the plans made particular to each situation, they will all need to be communicated consistently, empathetically and to all audiences.

 

The top 10 elements of a business change and restructuring communications plan

There are 10 essential elements you need to consider and prepare when planning the communications strategy for any business change or restructuring programme.

1. Establish your narrative and stick to it: Ensure that you have an agreed and articulated core narrative and consistent messaging about the business decisions and the reasons for it. And strictly stick to it across all audiences and communication pieces to avoid confusion.

2. Scenario plan: Map out all possible scenarios that you are considering ahead of the announcement and make sure you have communications plans for each scenario.

3. Map your stakeholders: Map and categorise all the people and organisations you need to be considering for engagement, working out who needs to be told what and when. This could include unions, employee groups, regulators, sector bodies, suppliers and more.

4. Pre-prepare your media: Develop a media strategy and press statements. This includes developing an escalation process and reactive messaging in case of any leaks.

5. Make a timeline and stick to it: Once a strategy has been decided upon, put together a comprehensive timeline and task planning matrix to cover all aspects of the announcement.

6. Prepare content and templates: Develop a suite of communication materials in support of your announcement: emails, letters, FAQs, social media posts, videos, etc.

7. Script your presentations, meetings and interviews: Write scripts and talking points for senior leaders who are fronting face-to-face communications and meetings.

8. Establish a press office: Ensure that you have 24/7 press office support in place for the announcement and the media and stakeholder interest that will follow.

9. Keep communicating with your stakeholders: Prepare a post-announcement outreach and meeting programme with regulators, government, industry bodies and other key stakeholders as necessary.

10. Don’t forget your internal comms: Ensure that there is a programme in place for ongoing employee engagement and communications with those both affected and unaffected by the changes.

Communicating around restructuring, or any business change process, is all about preparation – use these top 10 tips as a guide and do your preparation before making your announcements to give yourself the best chance of successfully getting your message across and defending your reputation.

 

 

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Covid-19: what will the recovery look like?

Since the Covid-19 crisis hit, the focus has been on crisis response.

Government, businesses, trade associations and charities have all been grappling with an existential threat that would have been unthinkable just a few short weeks ago.

The Government’s response has been swift and significant. Hundreds of billions of pounds have been made available to prop up businesses in the form of grants, loans and tax deferrals.

What does the Recovery look like?

The priority up to now has quite rightly been how we manage the health and economic emergency that Covid-19 has created. But parts of the Government are already pivoting to think about what the recovery could look like, how we can speed it up and what policy levers they need to pull to make it happen.

A lot will depend on the nature of the economic recovery and governments around the world are using every tool in their arsenal to try and prevent a drawn-out recession.

But even more will depend on people.

How will we all respond once restrictions are lifted? How can we be encouraged to start pumping money into businesses who will desperately need it?

Policy Innovation

Policy teams across Whitehall are looking at their programmes and trying to work out which parts are still viable post-Coronavirus; which parts will need to be reworked and which parts put away for another day.

Policy innovation will have to occur almost everywhere.

And the situation with businesses is no different.

The past few weeks at WA Communications have been about helping clients understand the developments, put their cases to government and manage crisis communications.

But already the conversations are starting to shift from disaster response to recovery. We are talking to clients about what work they can do now to maximise their chances for success once the crisis passes.

Structural Reform

But more than that, structural reform questions are already beginning to surface.

After the 2008 crisis the financial sector went through unprecedented scrutiny and regulatory change.

This time the questions will be broader; about our long-term investment in public services, the role of the state; the readiness and structure of the NHS; the nature of employment; and the capabilities of the domestic manufacturing base to name just a few.

Central figures in this government are born reformers and will relish these types of challenge to conventional thinking.

Dominic Cummings may no longer be able to go to war with the BBC or civil service hierarchy, but he may yet find room for his reformist agenda in the response to Covid-19.

Message and positioning are key

Given the unprecedented upheaval the Government is having to manage, making your message stand out is key to being heard.

Measures that drive economic recovery and protect or create jobs will draw the most attention.

But there will also be possibilities to think more creatively about how you can work with government, what policy innovations can fit into the broader narrative of recovery and which sectors can lead the charge.

Despite the pandemic, it’s important to remember this is a government fresh off the back of a resounding election victory and with a huge swathe of first-time Conservative voters to please.

In the midst of a crisis it seems premature to be thinking about a recovery, but the Government is already looking for ideas.

Positive policy ideas that can help support the economy will be listened to.

Organisations that bring solutions will be welcomed.

Using this time to think about what role you could play in the recovery would be time well spent.

 

 

 

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