Top 5 tips for Crisis Communications in Scandinavia

21/12/2019By scandinaviancomChange Communications, Christina Rytter, Crisis Communications, Management Communications, PR Tips & Trends, Scandinavian Communications, Social Media, SoMe Tips & Trends, Strategic Communications

By Christina Rytter, Founder & Crisis Communications Advisor

When crisis or change hits like a bolt from the blue it’s normal for even the most experienced executive to feel concerned. Especially when you want to be at the forefront of things. Here are my Top 5 tips on how you navigate successfully through the storm when a crisis or change hits you in the Scandinavian market:

1. Response quick – but well thought out

A quick response is key in a critical situation, because it gives you the chance to handle and control the situation and thereby the outcome proactively with a higher possibility for success. BUT the quick response must be flanked by carefully thought out communications – especially what key messages you need to deliver in the conversation with your different stakeholders.

Scandinavians are very critical and direct – and we don’t hold back with the questions. This apply to both employees, journalists, clients, business partners and competitors. So, you really need to prepare. I find that one of the most effective ways in crisis and change communications in Scandinavia is to draw up and work with different realistic crisis or change scenarios and plan, what to do and say in each imaginary scenario – and which communications channels will suit your messages and conversations with different internal and external stakeholders best.    

2. Get ready for conversation

  • What is your key message? Your communication is clearer, when you only focus on one or few key messages.
  • Who are you talking to? (Your key target group/stakeholders)
  • Which information do the person/stakeholders need?
  • Which situation are they in? Communicate the messages relevant to them, not to you.  
  • Choose your role based on the person/target group. Are you formal or informal? How do you dress? What language and body language do you use? BUT be yourself!
  • Prepare, prepare and prepare.
  • Train, train and train.

3. Take control over your body language

Your body language is your greatest asset, when you know how to control and use it. When you learn to use your body language proactively combined with clear messages, you can be a brilliant and authentic leader and communicator. BUT if you don’t have your body language under control – and that is quite normal in a crisis or change situation, when you might get nervous – then it can work so much against you, that nobody hears what you say. Well-known international studies show, that up to 80 % of people’s perception of you will be from your body language. That is if you fail to control it. Otherwise people listen. Scandinavian will mostly listen – if it’s not to boring. And if you serve beer (or something stronger for the Finns) they will really listen. 😉.    

Control what we see:

  • Posture: Straight back and raised head express security, authority and energy.
  • Choose a suitable grimace for the occasion; Seriousness, enthusiasm or joy?
  • Use gestures that support the message.
  • Firm eye contact exudes security and credibility.
  • If you avoid eye contact it signals insecurity, uncertainty – and thus untrustworthiness.
  • Pay attention to your bad habits and patterns – they especially come out when you are nervous under pressure.
  • Look fresh and well-rested (of cause sometimes that might be a little difficult in a crisis).

Control what we hear:

  • Deep and calm voicing creates trust and credibility.
  • Variation in voice creates dynamism and awareness of the recipient.
  • Talk slowly – without getting boring. It exudes heaviness and credibility.
  • Breath deep and use (rhetorical) pauses.

4. Keep calm
Even the most experienced executive can get nervous under pressure in a difficult crisis or change situation. That is just human nature.

What happens when you get nervous?

  • You protect your body with your arms, turn your back, avoid eye contact, smile stiffly and stave off.
  • You sweat, get pale, get ticks, mess with your hair or perform other unconscious bad habits. What are your bad habits under pressure?
  • You move uneasily; rocks or turns on the chair. Tilting back and forth on your feet.
  • You breathe quickly and superficially.
  • You speak faster and get a sharper and lighter voice.

Then what to do?

  • Breathe deeply and plant both feet into the floor.  
  • Lower your talk rate and use (rhetorical) pauses.
  • Open your arms, straighten your back and look up and out.
  • Make and maintain eye contact – possibly look between the eyes if real eye contact is unpleasant.
  • Only smile when it suits the occasion.
  • Sit and stand still.
  • Choose a chair that stands firm. Otherwise you will quite easy start rocking or turn it.
  • If at a presentation: Go consciously among the audience.
  • Avoid carbonated water – so you don’t burp (when you breathe quick and superficially).  

5. Use the crisis to your advantage

When your response quickly and are well prepared, you can turn the difficult situation into your advantage. By working out a carefully thought out message platform with key messages as a first step. And train through the different scenarios with message- and media training, you can navigate successfully through. Get your Crisis Communications Action Plan in order; Who do you need to communicate to as a first step? When and how? If you handle crisis and change like this, people will understand you much better – and even get on your side. When you keep calm and friendly – and communicate in a clear and authentic way you be at the forefront of things. And as always, the most important thing is to prepare – and train, train, train!

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Communication Agencies and Law Firms: the new allies in business crises

27/09/2019By scandinaviancomChange Communications, Crisis Communications, Management Communications, Public Relations Global Network, Strategic Communications


By Valentina Giacaman Hazboun, Founding Partner at RumboCierto Comunicaciones

In an era of corporate reputation coming under close scrutiny from an increasing number of directions, strategic communications agencies – at least the ones staffed with experienced communications professionals and former journalists and capable to support companies and individuals alike in a crisis situation – have become increasingly valued by law firms and their clients.
Still a few years ago, when a corporation – or a company executive or business tycoon for instance – had to face the courts, they mostly called only for a lawyer to get prepared to defend themselves against charges.

Today the notion is on the increase that this is far from enough. Corporations and businesspeople have become seriously worried about their image, as well. What will the press write? How the reputation will be reevaluated by those in the market where they operate? And – last but not least – how they can effectively defend themselves against charges (either false or true) so that a crisis does not end in any damage with unthought-of consequences.

In today’s growingly image-conscouios environment, legal specialists and counsels have also started to involve crisis experts or lobbyists, since they have become aware that without the crucial communications aspect of an analysis they will have less chance to win their cases.

I’ve come across lawyers who have even included public disqualifications as a way to litigate. And recent evidence shows clearly that companies have been destroyed, sold cheap or even come to be worth zero after a crisis erupted involving them. The same can happen to executives and businesspeople: if their reputation is tarnished, they will never be able to access new jobs or even close deals.

The true specialists companies and individuals need in such situations are people who can understand the media, anticipate intentions behind calls from journalists, ask the right questions and – based on accurate data gathered that way – can reconstruct facts and explain them in simple language everyone understands.

This specialist area within the general communications practice has developed over the recent years of crises while the industry also found a name for it and called it Corporate Reputation Management – which is now so much talked about in seminars and the trade press. And most recently this field has been further intensified by the arrival of “fake news” and “post-truth”. Now it is a part of almost all conflict and crisis situations that false news is created around them with the intention to damage the image of a person or to distort perception of reality by the public opinion.

While reputation management is not a new practice in the field of communications, awareness is growing that a loss of reputation can have serious consequences on the judicial outcomes, and social networks can aggrevate that impact further. A prominent judge in Chile recently noted in an article: “It is the social sanction which is invoked that can often be harsher than the sanctions by the courts.

RumboCierto Comunicaciones is our partner agency in Chile.  Article originally published at PRGN.com

Visit from our international partners in Poland & Brazil

13/09/2019By scandinaviancomChange Communications, Christina Rytter, Content Marketing, Crisis Communications, Management Communications, PR, Public Relations Global Network, Scandinavian Communications, Social Media, Strategic Communications

Today we had a wonderful visit and Friday Lunch in Copenhagen with our Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) partners and friends from OneMulti in Poland and SMARTPR in Brazil.

The World’s Local Agency
PRGN is The World’s Local Public Relations Agency. We are a connected network of 50 hand-selected agencies working within PR, Strategic Communications and Digital/Social Marketing servicing key markets around the world. As leaders in our respective regions, PRGN agencies offer the “boots-on-the-ground” savvy of a local Public Relations agency, yet on a global scale. Our model allows us to deliver a unique level of flexibility – scaling up or down across multiple markets to meet your business needs. Each PR agency knows its local community and it knows how to help clients connect with their audiences in those regions.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help in Scandinavia – or beyond with single-point-of-contact.

Read more about PRGN.

Five key learnings from social media crisis

09/08/2019By scandinaviancomCrisis Communications, Public Relations Global Network, Social Media, SoMe Tips & Trends

By Philip Hauserman, Vice President and Director of Crisis Communications at The Castle Group

In today’s world, there’s no escaping social media – especially when it comes to crisis communications.
I can say this with authority since 99.9 percent of the crises we’ve managed in the past few years have involved one platform or another. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Yik Yak (yes, even Yik Yak, for those of you who remember 2016). Each platform presents its own challenges, of course, but the approach to managing the situation and the response more or less stays the same.

So, what do you do? How do you manage a social media crisis?

Prepare. There’s no anti-virus software that I know of that will quickly and quietly fix a crisis, especially one that is playing out online for all the world to see. Having a plan in place – and testing that plan – before a crisis occurs is the No. 1 step you can take right now to prepare yourself and your organization for that inevitable moment when you hear those three little words that nobody wants to hear: “It’s gone viral!” Part of that plan includes making sure that you know your channels, your passwords, and your team. More than one person on your social media team should always have access to each account, and at least one person should be able to access the accounts from a mobile device. Your plan should also include likely scenarios and template responses – pre-approved messages that can be used in public and/or private message formats. Why is this important? Because a single tweet that goes unresponded to can kick off a digital firestorm that can take over and create a narrative of its own, leaving your organization – and your reputation – behind. In a true social media crisis, you don’t have the benefit of time to run a draft social media response up and down the ladder and through legal before posting. Do that ahead of time and save yourself from the headache that comes with waiting…and watching…a crisis snowball online.

Implement – and abide by – social media policies. Developing guidelines and posting policies for external interaction with your social media channels sets clear expectations for acceptable/unacceptable usage of your organization’s pages. These policies will also give you a publicly stated set of rules to refer to in the event that you have to remove a particularly ugly or vicious attack on your platforms. But don’t, under any circumstances, start deleting or hiding comments – unless they violate said policies. Doing so will make the situation infinitely worse.

Listen, listen, listen. The best way to know what’s going on before, during, and after a crisis is to listen. Monitor your own organization’s channels and that of news outlets that may be reporting on the issue. Pay special attention to trending topics and hashtags on each platform, flagging and screen capturing comments that are particularly concerning and may require priority treatment. Many times, you’ll discover new, and potentially actionable, information just by listening to the conversation. When you do speak, speak with one voice and transmit one message. The style and the exact words of the response may change to fit the platform, but the substance of the response should not. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of eyes just waiting and watching for inconsistencies and errors and tone-deaf or robotic remarks – anything to fan the flames and keep the controversy going. What you say online should be the same thing you said to the reporter who called a few minutes ago, and it should absolutely be the same thing you said to your employees.

Debrief. Clean up. And then start planning for the next crisis. Once the storm has passed, it’s time to clean up. Did you promise any updates to anyone during the situation or event? If so, who needs to hear from you and when? Did your process work? What needs to be improved? Do you need to run through drills based on what your organization experienced? Should you update your policies and passwords? These are just some of the questions to ask yourself and your team before the next storm rolls through.

The Castle Group is our partner agency in Boston, USA.  Article originally published at PRGN.com

How to Keep Your Business Safe from Social Network Threats

17/08/2018By scandinaviancomCrisis Communications, Public Relations Global Network, Social Media, Strategic Communications


By Dominique Biquard, Founding Partner of IDENTIA PR

Social media is a very powerful tool for business. It is a platform for businesses to showcase their strengths and build a community of followers. Unfortunately, that same power can translate to major damage in the event of a crisis. Social media gives publicity issues the fuel to escalate to a full crisis in mere minutes. This type of crisis can cost millions and seriously damage the reputation of the company or institution.

Crisis communication is a very important piece of a PR plan. The best crisis management practices enable quick mitigation of crises, and general crisis prevention. To survive a PR crisis, it is crucial to come up with crisis prevention and a crisis communication plan during times of peace.

Road map and clear action plan

Crisis communication strategies should include escalation paths to cover all contingencies. In the event of a crisis, it is essential to count on an internal response flowchart and alert. The crisis flowchart must specify who should be contacted within your organization according to the different scenarios. Your social networks and the people who handle them must keep their contact information detailed and updated.

Most of the time, negative comments and feedback can be managed with normal PR efforts and social media management. With adequate training and planning, it is possible to mitigate reputation issues before they evolve into major issues. The key is to be very involved in your online presence and preparation to act fast.

A model of an escalation path in a crisis management plan could be as follows:

1. The Community Manager/Customer Support responds.
2. The Community Manager/Customer Support responds according to the crisis plan.
3. The head of the crisis committee is involved. If necessary, content is created and monitored.
4. The crisis committee responds, and the executive team is involved. Content is generated and monitored.
5. The executive team responds. Content is generated and monitored.

Eight steps to manage a social media crisis

1. Acknowledge
Don’t let them catch you by surprise. Your first response should always be “yes, we know something has happened” even if you have no answers on the issue yet.

2. Put out the fire
Using a pre-approved response, act first in the social network or platform where the crisis broke out. Pinpoint where it is escalating fastest, and search for the way to tone it down.

3. Apologize sincerely
The communication should feel sincere, in a simple ⎼not technical or legal⎼ language.

4. FAQ
Maintain a central location where the public may find all communications, information and content related to the crisis: acknowledgement of the crisis, details of the event, photos or videos, how the company found out what was happening, actions taken in response, contact information, etc.

5. Set up a place for complaints
Try to keep all complaints in one place that you can actively monitor (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). If the conversation unfolds in a place we control, it will be easier to monitor, moderate and analyze.

6. Know when to take it offline
Social media crisis management is not about winning, but damage control. Some people will be angry enough not to be convinced of anything we may say.

People often join the crisis simply because it is easy to do so from a keyboard. Offering a telephone number to answer complaints may subdue some voices. We must be sure that the customer support staff has all the crisis information and guidelines.

7. Prepare the spokespersons and employees
It is imperative that ALL employees be informed about the crisis. Whether by email, text message, intranet or meetings, you must keep your employees at least as knowledgeable as the public. They are all potential spokespersons.

8. Take advantage of the calm after the storm
Analyze what happened: How did it happen? Could it have been anticipated or avoided? How did we respond? What should we change? Analyze all the situations and the public reactions.

It is rightly said that everything related to social media is chaotic, complex, difficult to handle and control. The conversation flows with or without our participation. But it also grants us the opportunity to give our opinion in real time, without depending on third parties willing to publish our version. If we employ proper planning and prevention measures in our crisis communication plans, the storm will calm down, and we will be able to put it under control faster and at a lower cost.

IDENTIA PR is our partner agency in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Article originally published at PRGN.com

7 PR Tips On Turning The Tide On Consumer Distrust

10/08/2018By scandinaviancomChristina Rytter, Crisis Communications, Management Communications, PR, PR Tips & Trends, Public Relations Global Network, Scandinavian Communications, Social Media, Strategic Communications

By Sheena Campbell-Royle, CEO, SCR – SCP

We came from a world where selling a product or service was all about how you positioned yourself and how you ‘sold’ your company, through advertising, marketing and PR where you told people what you thought they should know about your product. It was really all about you and how good you were. Now we are in a different global world where this is not enough, a world where the empowered consumer will only buy your services or products if he agrees with you and likes who you are, where your corporate values must be a match to his or her own ideas and they must be transparent and known about.

This is a big change and companies need to get their heads around what this means for them. Quality and price is not enough if what you say lacks credibility.

Consumers have rights and they now think about why they should put their trust in your company, and, as a company, you need to step up to this and make it known who you are, how you think, how you treat others and what your views on the world are.

It’s happening at all levels and forcing some companies who have lost consumer trust to re-think the strategy.

So here are some tips on what your company should be doing in PR terms to regain your consumers, clients and prospects trust and make sure you keep it.

  1. Analyze carefully all aspects of what you are doing and how you are communicating to your audiences, your ‘voice’. Make sure all your company (people who work for you, suppliers and other audiences) understand your viewpoint and values and identify with them. Include your audiences in the analysis so that ideas are not imposed, but understood and complied with.
  2. Define your position on issues like environment, social issues, even politics. This may be a risk, but being neutral is often seen as aligning with the ‘bad guys’. Look at your social network presence and take into account that some social networks have come under severe criticism. Be careful that consumers don’t see you as part and parcel of these errors, so put transparency high on your ‘to do’ list because trust is tantamount. The culture you breathe in your company needs to speak of authenticity and transparency, this will make consumers feel their needs are being met and less likely to feel they’re always being ‘sold to’.
  3. Get your name to appear and tell people who you are in established newspapers and publications. Get noticed and get your opinion out there, support your corporate values and issues which you think interest and please your audiences. In our era of ‘fake news’, people still trust traditional and digital media with solid reputations.
  4. Make sure your company is meeting its consumers or clients on their terms by making your website and social pages a very positive experience. If a review is left or customer help asked for, ensure that they leave your site or social page feeling reassured and feeling you care about them, that their opinion matters. But this must be real, this is not just the face, this translates into real actions and is demonstrated. Know that each consumer ‘touch’ is an opportunity to humanize your company making it easier for consumers to put their trust into what you do.
  5. Try to engage with ‘earned content’. If you see a consumer interacting with your product, use this, making it public (always after asking and receiving permission) so that others can identify with the action and trust in it.
  6. Offer useful information to your consumers or clients related to your product, service or sector. You could for example use a specific place on your website and social platforms for your customers, clients to ask what they want to learn and you could ask them what they would like to know about.
  7. Last of all, keep your promises. Do what you say you are going to do and live your corporate values making them deep rooted in your company’s ADN

To conclude, flip the coin, be more aware as a company of what the needs and desires of your consumers, clients or prospects are and try to meet them.

SCR-SCP is our partner agency in Spain. Article originally published at PRGN.com