Posts Tagged ‘Crisis Communications’

Our German Crisis Communications Partner, Engel & Zimmermann

May 17, 2021

Fuzion Communications are part of a European crisis communications network with the core purpose of providing clients with a network of experts in crisis communications should a pan-European issue occur.

The Crisis Communications Network is an association of European owner-managed PR agencies with unrivalled expertise in Crisis Prevention and Communication. As independent agencies it is highly flexible and is able to react immediately to clients’ needs and where necessary co-ordinate across different jurisdictions in Europe.

At the time of writing there are experienced agencies in 11 countries as part of the CCNE.

To give you some insight into these international partners we have asked each of them to give us some information about their business, the local “hot topics” and their general approach.

We start off with the founding partner of the CCNE.

Here is some information about our German partner agency, Engel & Zimmerman.

About them:
Engel & Zimmermann was founded in 1985 in Munich. Nowadays the owner-run consultancy has a second office in Osnabrück (Lower Saxony) and works for more than 60 companies as regular consulting clients. 50 employees take care of mostly midsized companies.

For these clients they set up systematic crisis prevention, e.g. training for the staff with camera-based media training, workshops for the crisis management team or risk analyses. When a crisis occurs they develop effective communication strategies and talk as spokespeople on behalf of the client to the press.

Engel & Zimmermann specialise in working for food and beverage producers, which account for about half of their regular consulting clients. Furthermore, they deal with compliance and cyber breaches for companies from various industry sectors.

Crisis Communications in Germany:
Communications is very challenging in Germany these days. They observe that social media and corporate communication departments in many companies are not well prepared for sensitive communications with the general public. One of the big topics they identified is that companies are struggling with what they refer to as identity politics.

Many of them are completely overwhelmed and need help in developing an attitude or position concerning political and social issues (e.g. racism and gender diversity), which is accepted by all of their customers. It is more and more obvious that no company can be unpolitical any longer. The reason why Engel & Zimmermann has so many clients from F&B is that this sector has been highly criticised in Germany for many years now. The expectation is that this development continues in the future.

Broadcast media, NGOs and parts of the general public have a huge focus on product quality problems, the use of additives and artificial flavourings or general consumer deception. Against this background, many F&B companies are under permanent pressure and communication mistakes have to be carefully avoided.

Their Approach:
From their perspective, crisis communications is a strategic and long-term task. They are convinced that systematic crisis prevention should be practiced by all companies, which is their groundwork for every kind of effective communications in the case of a crisis. They are available for their clients 24/7 and also help them with current issues. Because of their strategic approach they also believe that and crisis should be precisely analysed in the aftermath. They consider their strategic approach to be a holistic one – from crisis prevention to ad-hoc crisis communications and to crisis evaluation.

The Irish Comparison

While the basics that we follow are identical; be prepared, identity potential risks, have a plan, have a great, experienced team that can handle a crisis and a client team that is trained to handle media with support – it is clear that there are special conditions in each country that you need to be aware of if you are dealing with a crisis and it is at these times that you need a local experienced, agile partner to help you navigate these challenges when they occur.

If you would like any information about our crisis communications service or the Crisis Communications Network Europe feel free to contact me at deirdre@fuzion.ie.

Deirdre

Deirdre Waldron, founder of Fuzion heads up the Crisis Communications team, which operates from offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland.

Avoiding the Snowball Effect

February 11, 2021

The beauty of the flurry of snowflakes falling outside my office/spare bedroom window is magical. Yet experience, and probably age, inspire a level of concern and consideration as to the knock effects a heavy and prolonged snowfall can have.

This may be the start of the snow that we’ve been warned was coming over the past week. We’ve been braced for ‘Beast from the East 2.0’ conjuring memories of the Siberian snowstorm that shut much of the country in 2018.

Little did we know that being restricted in movement would be so passé by 2021, having spent the last 12 months in some level of lockdown and what seems like a constant degree of crisis management and “pivoting” as a result of a global pandemic and Brexit, among other things.

As head of Communications back then for Dairygold, the ‘Beast from the East‘ posed immense risks and consequences to the logistics and operations of the business.

How to reach farms to collect milk when the rural roads were impassable, what of the milk that couldn’t be collected? How to support suppliers when they needed their Co-Operative most? Not to mention, the day-to-day operations of the international business, the welfare of hundreds of staff, its processing and manufacturing sites, retail stores etc.

Business continuity kicked into action early, with planning for such scenarios already in place to as much of an extent as possible. I was proud to have been part of the business continuity task force regularly updating management, assessing risks and addressing the complex requirements of all stakeholders. Again, little did we know that orchestrating remotely with efficiency and in collaboration would become a modus operandi for so many of us two years later.

Communications, both internal and external, is critical to linking the elements together. I’m grateful to Dairygold’s management and in particular its CEO Jim Woulfe who astutely valued and recognised the role communications plays in continuity planning and situation management. They led by example on the value of communication across the business.

Underestimating the importance of communications in continuity planning and situation management is one of the biggest risks to a business that can have serious and long-term consequences to safety, operations, reputation, staff morale, you name it.

If you’re a corporate working with an agency or have communications support internally, it’s vital that you see them as your partner. If you don’t have day-to-day support, it’s important to recognise when you may need it and where to go if/when you need Crisis Communication, Litigation Support Services.

We may not always know, or need to know, the nitty gritty but it’s crucial to know enough to devise a strategy, trouble-shoot effectively and be as proactive as possible. From our perspective, business continuity planning, Crisis PR and situation management is a heady mix of proactive and reactive communications. Above all, for it to work, clear and effective channels of communication must be open.

At times we remind and reassure clients that we’ve got their back.

We’re there 24/7 to support, prevent and mitigate adverse outcomes for our clients but we can’t support if we’re in the dark. A quick call or line to your communications partner helps to identify and tease out the risks and the requirements, if there are any.

It gets the cogs turning and can be one of the most important calls that’s made. Communication is not the enemy, it’s the solution. If you have time on your side, media training is also a hugely worthwhile exercise for preparedness which you’ll hope you never need.

Whether it’s for reasons of a lack of time, clarity, silo mentality or containment, communications support can fall down the priority list and it can snowball from there...

Aoibhinn

Aoibhinn Twomey, former journalist, is an Account Director with Fuzion Communications and is part of the Crisis Communications team, offering Crisis Consultancy services from offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland 


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