Preparing for a Crisis
Most of us make New Year’s resolutions and many organizations plan to update their crisis management strategies in 2012. That’s a great idea in this world of instant information and potential misinformation about a difficult or embarrassing situation happening at your organization.
Here are a five things to minimize the negative impact and perhaps even turn something into a positive in a new or updated crisis management plan that meets today’s advanced communications challenges.
1. Identify potential crisis. Consider the services you provide and to whom, the inherent risks associated with your industry, your employee base, location, and any judgments that have been levied against your organization. These are all minefields for you to navigate.
2. Chose your spokespeople and have them media trained. Who will speak for the organization? It should be limited to one or no more than two people. However, anyone who might need to be involved in an interview, such as key senior management and/or specific board members, should be trained on how to speak to the media. A good trainer will discuss how to stay on topic, what key points to make and how to make them, ways to minimize nervousness and how to listen for hidden agendas.
3. Consider the power of photography. As you consider the crisis that might arise, also consider what photographic or video image you would want to project to the news media. Create a plan that could match a photographic image to a crisis in a more positive light. The image used by the press initially is usually the image that remains throughout the story coverage.
4. Outside influences. Your plan is only as good as you are able to avoid misinformation . Your current and former employees and customers, residents, families and vendors might all have an opinion to share with the media. Communicate with them as early as possible. Nothing can stop a “man on the street” interview, a Facebook post or Twitter Tweet, so your constituents should know first about your situation, position and actions being taken.
5. Messaging. Nothing is more important than the message — whether it is verbal or non-verbal. As soon as a crisis occurs, call in the key people to discuss the situation. During that discussion, it is most important to think about how the victims and their families and friends are going to interpret the crisis. If you can keep that in mind, you are more likely to understand what the message should be: factual, compassionate, simple, consistent and with a swift and manageable resolution.
For more information about Crisis and Reputation Management, call IVY Marketing Group at 630-790-2531.
Lessons Learned at Leading Age
The annual meeting of Leading Age was not only a great time to see old friends and learn new tactics, it was also the 50th anniversary celebration of this association that serves the providers of homes and services for the aging. We recently returned from the four day meeting held in Washington DC with a dozen take-aways you might find helpful when marketing your communities.
1) Look at your residency contracts for prospects. How does it help people preserve their assets? Considering the cost of home maintenance and the likeliness of another 10 years before home values are restored to their pre-2008 status, this could be a way to connect with prospects on a very real level.
2) Nurture not only the hot prospects, but all your prospects because 75% of them are interested in the CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community) product. It may just take them 5 or 6 years to finally move-in.
3) The CCRC is considered a discretionary expense.
4) Conduct home visits and leave behind a “signature gift” (something that can be associated with your community).
5) Dig way deeper during discovery. It’s not enough to just ask what the prospects hobbies are. You need to know how often they enjoy that hobby. Where are they when they are doing this activity and with whom.
6) Segment your mailing lists more to get better returns.
7) Do the math to determine if television’s cost per thousand is more productive than it is in other marketing vehicles. And, of course determine if the cost relationship to sales outweighs other options.
8) Lead generation tactics and your sales approach should be creative. In other words, it should pleasantly surprise your prospect.
9) Evaluate the value of outdoor signage, especially billboards.
10) According to Pew Research, 33% of people use social media and of the people who are online, 51% of them are 50 to 64 years old. Not only are these the adult children of our residents, they are age-qualified to move in.
11) Use all the free online analytical tools available to you.
12) The competition to the CCRC’s is your prospect’s HOME. The attendees of this conference are very smart — they know that sometimes it’s better to join ‘em rather than fight ‘em. They attended the Home and Community Based Service sessions in droves, filling room to capacity with standing room only. This could be key to success in senior housing until 2020 when there will be plenty of seniors to go around.
Free Internet Listings Revealed
There are dozens of places to list your business on the Internet and some of them are even free. So, since the Internet is now the dominant place people go to find just about everything, via their computers or smart phones, it’s time to make sure your business is discoverable. Here’s where to look and what to expect.
With a Google search, you can find several free listings options. Most of them are basic listings and do not have a logo option. However, your listing would consist of your organization’s name, address, phone number and website. Many have no or limited ability to give a description of your organization. Occasionally, as with prweb.com, you can also add your 400-character commercial about your company and choose the meta tags and landing page options that best suit your company.
Make sure you get your business listed on the three primary search engines: Google, Yahoo and Bing. You can also put your business name and a brief pitch with: SuperPages, Yellow Pages, ASK.com, locallytype.com, spoke.com and mylocalservices.com.
Eight popular places to add your business’s name are: YellowBot, YELP, White Pages, MapQuest, SuperPages, CitySearch, YellowBook and local.com.
If you don’t mind a small investment in your Internet listing, you can sign up with a central listing management site. YEXT.com costs under $100 and they will make sure your listing appears on the eight sites listed above. It’s a great place to manage these powerhouse business listing sites. The beauty of Yext is that if you want to add an offer to your listing for a period of time, you can update it on all eight sites at once. Then, if you want to have your add stand out, you can select just one or all websites to have a more prominent listing. The fee is annual and gives you a nice presence on the sites you select. Currently none of them exceed $90 per year.
For companies who are used to the high cost of yellow-page advertising, this is a welcome change. Do you have other websites that you recommend for business listings?
Don’t think you’re a remarkable writer? Then write about something remarkable.
Remarkable content is within your grasp every day. What made you smile today? What made you angry, or sad or surprised you? Dozens of simple, possibly significant triggers come into your life daily. Capture them, break them down into their basic parts. Think about why you reacted as you did and what greater impact that revelation could have on people with the same interests and you — especially those interested in your online content or blog.
It’s really very simple. Let’s say you see a field of daffodils. You find them beautiful and it pleases your sensory receptors. Ask yourself: why? Do you like the color of the yellows and whites against the rich green leaves with the blue sky backdrop? Although being in that field of daffodils might be a “you gotta be there moment” what the colors mean to you and others could be an intriguing topic. Throw in a few serious facts about color, such as studies that support the claim that yellow sparks creativity, green generally means freedom and the blue from the sky is calming. Invite others to think about color, what it means to them, how they use it, what the “universal” opinion of certain colors may be. Take a photo or video of the daffodil field to accompany your commentary. You just wrote a 400 word article that is interesting to read, relevant to your audience, about something… remarkable.
This very easy process can be applied to anything in your life whether it is work-related or personal. Every day you face new challenges. You have new ideas. Again, just think about them in a wider context to test the topic’s ability to be developed into something interesting for many readers.
All writers suffer from ‘writer’s block’ from time to time. They don’t know where to start and nothing is intriguing them. That’s when you get out the Guinness Book of World Records or Google something very strange and interesting. It will spark your creative juices and your fingers will be dancing over that keyboard in no time.
Another writer’s tip is to start in the middle rather than the beginning of your story. The opening to your narrative will show itself when you have written the body of your copy. In fact, since many people write two or three paragraphs before they even get to the true lead of their topic, starting in the middle can work out just fine.
The moral of this story is that your don’t have to be a remarkable writer, you just need something remarkable to write about.