The New Chapters You Should Add to Your Crisis Handbook After COVID-19

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Crisis communications as a public relations practice stands out not just in the execution of high level strategies at an amplified pace, but because every crisis communications scenario serves as a stress test for that organization. Whether that crisis plays out in the headlines or gets managed internally, everyone immediately recognizes what worked… and what didn’t. While few organizations could have fully prepared for this past year of COVID-19 and the pandemic response, as companies look forward, they should first look back and take some of those hard lessons learned to heart. If you haven’t taken that hard look inside your organization yet, here are a few new chapters you should consider adding to your crisis communications handbook.

Your Crisis Communications Response Must Be Mobile… All The Time

How mobile is your crisis communications team? Can you easily gather all the information you need, spin up a media response and secure any necessary approvals or review if your lead decision maker is stuck on an airplane? Or maybe, if we can tempt fate for a moment, your Internet service fails or there’s a power outage. That’s right. Kiss that cloud storage backup goodbye for a moment. Will you still have access to necessary assets, templates or be able to reach someone else who can post to your social media accounts? Remember Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Many public relations practitioners have felt those words hang heavy over the past year and not just because of COVID-19. While it’s impossible to prepare for every possible eventuality, we can prepare so that roadblocks that hampered our work in the past do not derail our efforts in the future when they inevitably happen again.

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So, what does this mean for your communications team and decision making leadership? It means you develop redundancies. If everything hinges on one person’s approval and they’re in the hospital having a heart attack, decide who can step in ahead of time instead of the heat of the moment. If you’ve experienced a power or communications outage that lasted more than two hours over the last year, maybe someone should consider an old fashioned landline at home versus their VoIP service or ensure your key communicators have an alternative power source for their smartphones. Set up emergency conference call numbers where key decision  makers can connect quickly versus playing phone tag and make sure everyone who needs it has that number saved on speed dial. And as for that cloud storage, ensure you have a download of everything you might need on you, whether you’re stuck at home during a pandemic or alongside the road in the middle of nowhere. As communicators, we love to focus on the message and the strategy, but now is the time to also develop your organization’s crisis communications infrastructure and put plans in place before the next crisis strikes.

Listen Before You Speak in a Crisis

While we must retain the ability to respond quickly in a crisis, a year of the COVID-19 pandemic also provided us with ample opportunities to listen. How are our peers and competitors responding to a situation impacting us all? What do our customers or clients expect? For example, it may not be appropriate for every tech company to weigh in on public health policy during a pandemic, but they could have a significant role in setting expectations for their employees and modeling appropriate responses for their customers. For many of us, the pandemic wasn’t the only crisis we faced this past year either. In a time where it may feel like a constant race to be the first one to Tweet on a given topic, we must remember the value of listening before we speak. 

Even in a crisis situation where a swift response is key, there is room to listen. What is a reporter really asking? Who is really covering the news? How are our customers responding on social media? What is the tenor of those conversations and how could our response impact those conversations, either positively or negatively? Listening gives us the room to develop perspective which can guide any and every following response. The last year has provided plenty of time to listen closely, but how we use that perspective still lies with us.

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Align ALL of Your Communications, Not Just What You Say to Reporters

It goes without saying these days that a corporate statement on an issue is no longer the only way that organization can be seen as responding to a crisis or really any situation. Once again using COVID-19 as an example, your company can speak all day about following health and safety protocol to protect your employees, but if your leadership shows up on social media or the front page of a newspaper shaking hands, violating health guidelines at a dinner party or doing any one of a thousand other things people were asked to stop doing during the pandemic, all of your other work is immediately undermined. Same thing with your employees. If your company took a hard line on health safety and social distancing, but someone keeps posting photos of employees hanging out in the office without masks, no level of strategy could correct that perception. 

Now, more than ever, is the time to ensure your organization speaks with a single voice all of the time, not just in the midst of a crisis. That means taking steps to make sure your media relations and social media teams speak regularly, not just when something goes wrong. It means establishing clear internal communications channels so your staff understands social media protocols and what is or is not OK to share. It also means speaking with any member of your staff that engages with customers or the public to make sure they are just as aligned with your communications strategy and brand voice as the members of your public relations team are.

 

Learn to Prioritize During Crisis Communications

Finally, this past pandemic year reminded us that it is not only possible, but actually quite likely that you will have to deal with more than one crisis at a time. One may be larger than another or you could face a tsunami of challenges striking all at once. These are the moments when disciplined communications professionals rise to the challenge and lead organizations through a crisis. Even the most exceptional teams may be stretched thin when dealing with multiple crisis situations at once, but they get through by prioritizing one crisis at a time, managing the others and quickly working through the list. And the time to develop that discipline and hone those skills is before the next crisis strikes.

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Are You the Next Rock Star on the Ghidotti Team?

The Ghidotti Team is overflowing with full-fledged rock stars. Sure – we’re looking for the best, brightest, most creative, most organized. You get the picture. But what we REALLY want is someone who we can laugh with, depend on, learn from and do great work together. Learn more about who we’re looking for and what you can expect.

Ghidotti is currently hiring for three positions listed below – Account Executive, Account Supervisor and Media Relations Manager.

Account Executive Job Description: 

In the Account Executive position, emphasis is placed on growing independent work within the areas of project management, client relations, media relations, digital/marketing, and/or lead generation among other skills. You are the face to our clients and will play an integral role in daily communication and should be able to demonstrate tactical excellence. 

  • Write client and internal correspondence effectively and with limited supervision.
  • Successfully plan and execute client activities such as media tours, digital and social campaigns, business missions and/or other special events. 
  • Proactively identify blog content story ideas and work with the supervisor to develop. 
  • Develop relevant blogs, e-newsletters and website content effectively and with limited supervision. 
  • Successfully manage independently the execution of all client content calendars, which can include media relations pitch calendars, blogs, social content and paid media campaigns.
  • Exhibit competency and efficiency in drafting copy for client marketing materials and/or campaigns, such as website content, e-newsletters, collateral materials, paid media campaigns, etc. 
  • As it relates to social/digital media, regularly suggest ideas, manage the planning, and comfortably execute campaigns on behalf of clients. Efficiency with Canva, a plus!
  • Assist in the management of interns, when applicable. 
  • Be proficient in WordPress.
  • Easily navigate agency platforms such as Cision, TVEyes, Sprout Social, Sprinklr.
  • Depending on the needs of the service area, responsibilities may extend beyond the items above as skill sets, client contracts and other extenuating circumstances dictate.

Apply for this open position by emailing Bethany Siems at bethany@ghidotti.com.

 

Account Supervisor Job Description: 
In the Account Supervisor position, a staff member will be responsible for assisting and managing the public relations, content marketing, digital media, account services and/or creative/strategy for clients. This position requires fully developed specialty skills, a strong understanding of the industry landscape and an understanding of client priorities and objectives.
  • Serve as the account strategist/lead and oversee/play a clear leadership role on at least three clients.
  • Manage the implementation of work plans and ensure client deliverables are successfully met on deadline.
  • Play a leadership role in the sales process by identifying additional services to sell to existing clients and assisting with RFP responses, new business proposals, presentations, etc. with senior leadership or independently.
  • Display a strong understanding of and effectively communicate Ghidotti’s service offerings to existing clients.
  • Successfully supervise at least one junior staff member, including providing guidance on their professional growth.
  • Begin to play a role in the agency’s marketing efforts, guiding aspects of certain campaigns and/or helping to execute in their areas of expertise.

Account Services: 

  • Play a clear leadership role in the planning and execution of integrated marketing campaigns for clients.
  • Develop and write comprehensive strategic marketing plans for clients.
  • Handle vendor contracts and ensure proper billing.
  • Demonstrate a clear track record of successfully meeting deadlines and timelines.
  • Handle day-of logistics on behalf of clients, responding quickly and effectively.
  • Assist in providing leadership and professional development on client relations, helping team members improve their skills in managing conflict, presentations, sales, etc.

Client Strategy: 

  • Develop or oversee the visual content creation for client materials, including e-newsletters, website content, digital campaigns, marketing collateral, etc.
  • Oversee the development of marketing materials and branding campaigns.
  • Manage creative marketing campaigns on behalf of clients.
  • Demonstrate a clear track record of leading brainstorms, and providing and implementing creative ideas for proposals, presentations, etc.
  • Continually provide new and ‘fresh’ ideas for proposals, new business proposals and current clients’ marketing campaigns.

Apply for this open position by emailing Bethany Siems at bethany@ghidotti.com.

 

Media Relations Manager Job Description: 

In the Media Relations Manager position, a staff member will be responsible for assisting and managing the public relations, content marketing, digital media, account services and/or strategy for clients. This position requires fully developed specialty skills, a strong understanding of the public relations industry landscape and an understanding of client priorities and objectives. 

Main Responsibilities – General: 

  • Serve as the account strategist/lead and oversee/play a clear leadership role on media relations client accounts.
  • Display a strong understanding of and effectively communicate Ghidotti’s service offerings to existing clients. 
  • Successfully supervise at least one junior staff member, including providing guidance on their professional growth.

Main Responsibilities – Media Relations: 

  • Develop strategic media relations plans, direct management and outreach for client accounts with the supervision of Senior Leadership.
  • Perform with Senior Leadership to prepare a plan for strategic crisis communications.
  • Manage and facilitate the execution of media relations outreach for special events, programs and major initiatives.
  • Perform as spokesperson and coordinates official responses to media inquiries.
  • Conduct media training with clients in preparation for external media interviews. 
  • Support framing and development of main message points for better positioning prior to media interviews.
  • Prepare speeches, talking points and varied communications materials assisting client spokespersons.
  • Write pitches, backgrounders, press releases, key messages and blog posts.
  • Manage and monitor reporter hotline, client media relations calendar, metrics, media relations processes and press release approvals.
  • Propose ideas proactively for media pitches to stimulate media coverage.
  • Consistently pitch stories and secure strategic media placements assisting client reputation and business goals.
  • Manage and supervise media events along with initiatives defining company stories.
  • Identify proactive stories for trade, business as well as consumer media across multiple client industries.
  • Develop and maintain close media relations to improve press efforts.
  • Identify brands promoting opportunities and improve awareness of services and products.

Main Responsibilities – Client Strategy: 

  • Develop or oversee the visual content creation for client materials, including e-newsletters, website content, digital campaigns (webinar/live stream events), etc.
  • Demonstrate a clear track record of leading brainstorms and providing and implementing creative ideas for proposals, presentations, etc.
  • Continually provide new and ‘fresh’ ideas for new business proposals and current clients’ PR campaigns.

Apply for this open position by emailing Bethany Siems at bethany@ghidotti.com.

 

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We strive to create a fun, engaging atmosphere where high fives, chicken minis, and celebrations are commonplace. We lift one another up, honor achievements and reward hard work.

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  2. Community Engagement

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Does this describe you?

Apply for one of our open positions or just send us an email letting us know why you should be part of this Rock Star team. Email bethany@ghidotti.com.