How to handle a crisis and get a good buzz for your brand

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B&Q in Larkfield, Kent had to close its garden centre over the weekend, as a large swarm of bees settled on a hanging basket.

Closing the garden centre on a sunny Saturday in August must have hit revenue hard but B&Q turned it to their advantage with this lovely feel-good feature in the Daily Mirror, 23.8.15.

So using this great exemplar from B&Q here are five tips for good crisis communication or how a few timely, truthful, well-crafted sentences can make a difference:

1 Acknowledge the truth of the situation, in a straightforward way:

“The loss of custom is the least of our worries….”

2 Show that you have the care and safety of individuals in mind, especially the little people (in this case, honey bees):

“The loss of custom is the least of our worries, we’ll make it up over time, our customers safety and rescuing the bees is more important to us”.

3 Acknowledge and thank individuals involved:

“The guys did a fantastic job, we had to close our garden centre and haven’t reopened for the rest of the day.”

4. Use a third party spokesperson for added perspective and a sense of balance:

Keith Underdown, chairman of the areas Beekeepers’ Association, believes they followed the queen bee after soaring temperatures forced them to relocate. “It’s probable they made a strong colony earlier in the year and that a number of them followed the new queen.”

5. Provide a specific action which people can take if they feel moved by the situation:

“We will be happy to offer discounts of flowers to customers affected by the disruption.”

A final point is to provide as many pictures as you can so that, if possible, you can be in control of the images of your service or the situation being described.

Coffee tins: a canvas for creatives

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We love tins. They’re 100% recyclable, with an infinite recycling loop, and they protect and preserve products better and longer than any other form of packaging. The humble tin is a great packaging material – and we think design should celebrate this.

We’ve been impressed with Nescafé’s recent project, partnering with students from the University of the Creative Arts and Crown Aerosols to design a range of vibrant limited edition tins for their Azera coffee collection.

The 2nd year graphic design students were briefed to create unique designs for the tins, depicting different experiences of ‘coffee culture’. With help from Nescafé’s creative director, the students designed bold, colourful tins with high quality graphics, which effectively act as a 360-degree canvas highlighting Nescafé Azera’s brand appeal.

Tins offer an open playing field for a host of aesthetics and approaches for designers and in a Dragon’s Den-style pitch, students presented to the Nescafé team and six designs made the cut, hitting the coffee aisles since.

Working with emerging design talent, this initiative from Nescafé gave young creatives an exciting insight into the design industry and the opportunity to see their projects go from paper to supermarket shelves. The collaboration also injects a new enthusiasm into the world of creative packaging through the students’ innovative and bold ideas, as they go from initial brainstorms to strikingly crafted panoramic final designs.

And the colourful tins are collectable and will last forever – you can reuse, recycle or even upcycle…Viva the humble tin!

12 tips for successful staff engagement

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For some campaigns, an effective internal communication campaign can be more important that the external one. What factors should you take into account when developing a strategy? Here’s a checklist of factors to take into account.

1. Give advance warning of what you’re planning to do. Produce notices & send emails flagging up what is happening, change or update them, or issue new ones at regular intervals. People quickly become immune to a poster, and people can miss emails or forget so remind them at regular intervals

2. Make a time timetable and stick to it. Nothing is more demotivating than putting things back. Everyone understands that other things have to become a priority, but nevertheless it still saps morale a little bit when an event or agreed activity doesn’t take place. Routine postponements are corrosive e.g. delayed appraisals or meetings.

3. Don’t over promise. Don’t instigate something you can’t deliver on. Find out if you can deliver by checking on all the people involved in each stage ie. due diligence/ site recce / time and motion study. E.g. could you make a meeting every Friday or is that a bad time because there’s a weekly report to submit and Thursday would be better? Could you collect all your green waste in that bin or is it too far to walk and would slow down the production line?

4. Make your communication as visual as possible and use a variety of communication methods to communicate the same point. Not everyone takes in information from written communication – a lot of people don’t actually – so if possible use a photo or graphic to communicate a message. Do not rely on just saying the same thing in slightly different ways (e.g. several emails). Try a picture, or make video of the MD talking about the plan, or publish a video once a month.

5. For big change try to organise an event which demonstrates or encapsulates that change in a physical way. Kinaesthetic learning is a great way to really make people feel the change – engage. E.g. if you’re setting new targets, have a sports day and include shooting at targets. If you have to reorganise the office, have a game of musical chairs. It’s cheesy but memorable.

6. Consider guerrilla tactics and humour. To engage people you have to get them to notice and respond or react. Surprise them with a notice in an odd place, or a teaser campaign (this if you’re planning a big staff engagement event)

7. Check language barriers. In factories and manufacturing plants English may not be the mother tongue of many staff. Having a translator – and this might be another employee – could be important especially if communicating safety issues such as new working practices.

8. Watch out for cultural differences. Again might be factories or places in ethnic areas but watch out for events at special times e.g. Ramadan when Muslims are very tired during the day.

9. Set clear targets and explain them. They might be crazy or really hard to achieve and a little bit depressing, but at least try to explain the rationale and bring people along with you. E.g. we need to achieve zero food waste to landfill as food rotting in landfill creates methane which is a green house gas twenty times more powerful than CO2.

10. Feedback information regularly. Have a central notice board, or a regular email bulletin, or staff newsletter (e.g. Mail Chimp you can then see who has clicked through etc) and tell people what has happened. If nothing has happened tell them that!

11. Share success E.g. If you want academic staff to come forward with more ideas for PR, circulate the coverage when it is achieved with a note from the VC .

12. Offer rewards and deliver on them scrupulously. E.g. if you promise to achieve zero waste to landfill, and you will give all staff a days outing if the site achieves that target, then you must deliver your promise!