29 August 2011 3 Comments

Brand Communication: can your brand handle a bomb blast?

Author: yinkaolaito

Yinka Olaito is happy,excited and passionate Communications & Media specialist, Trainer and speaker. Yinka Olaito helps Profits and Non-profits with effective communication and positioning for premium service delivery and returns. Yinka Olaito also has special interest in Development Communication and has consulted for noted UN Agencies. Yinka Olaito is the CCO of Michael Sage Consulting(Communication/digital media), African Child Education Right Initiatives(NGO) and Content Director, Africa Development Talk( online Platform for discussion on Policy, Governance, development across Africa) and Africa Foundation for Young Media Professionals

Last Friday will remain evergreen in the hearts of United Nations’ country offices In Abuja Nigeria. That marked the  first  suicide bombing experience in Nigeria and in the United Nations building. Many workers and their family members within this international building (which housed about twenty-six development and other humanitarian Organizations) in Abuja Nigeria suffered unprecedented woes. The suicide bombing attack has been attributed to a religious/militant sect in the Northern part of the country.Bomblast-in-Abuja-Bomb-Blast-on-UN-Building-Abuja-Suicide-Bomb-On-UN-Building-Abuja-Nigeria.

If what we gathered from the news is anything to go by, the sect had initially sent a warning signal to the authority about the impending act. But as usual, the authority might have thought it was a ranting of fools. To the amazement of many, the act was carefully plotted and executed. Around ten thirty local time, this gruesome act was successfully executed living a considerable number dead and many wounded. Immediately the online media was populated with photos and opinions of different content producers. Then the local regular media relayed the breaking news. Within minutes CNN and other international media broke the news.

Within few hours, United Nations Secretary-General (Mr. Ba Ki-Moon) addressed an international press conference while the local United Nations Communication group spokesperson also lent a voice. President Goodluck Jonathan later visited the venue and condemned the act. Many international figures like Barrack Obama and David Cameron had also condemned the act.

A major lesson from the above is that brands around the world are no longer insulated against calamities of this magnitude. While we may not envisage a suicide bombing on any brand, it is time brands consider all the unlikely that can happen. A brand’s suicide bombing may be a wikileaks of vital document released on the internet. It may be a fire outbreak in a major division of the brand. It may also be planned rumour that has capacity of affecting brand’s credibility. Sometimes a brand’s suicide bombing may be a major hacker destroying vital information or what may be called ‘Brain Box/IP address’ document. This often grounds to a halt brand’s movement. In such a scenario, how well prepared is your brand communication team? Here below are our suggestions on how brand can handle a bomb blast or suicide bombing attempt on its brand’s reputation;

Heed/monitor every signal: Sometimes brands do not monitor dangerous signals because the custodians feel it is not an important issue. Never under estimate the power of a potential danger. It is easier to prevent a small issue than to control a colossal loss.

Prepare for what has never happened: today, we can never imagine the length a person will go to show his vengeance. Every member of the employees needs to be educated on safety issues. Also, put communication professionals within the organization through a rigorous process of seeing through every possibility. While you should trust your people, always look out of strange tendencies or behavioural changes in every stakeholder. Everyone from gateman, security must be at alert and watch out for dangerous signals.

Every media is now essential: As soon as a calamity happens, never forget the online media is closer and much more available to people in the grassroots. Have a team of professional communicators who are versed in both online and offline media use. They should be ready to communicate the incidence with a lot of diplomatic finesse. Be ready to be the first without damaging brand’s reputation.

Progressive briefing is also important: this is not the time to go to sleep. It is time to assure, support both the victims and their family members. When a crisis involves loss of lives, everyone needs psychological support. Those who are alive and those who are wounded must be supported while the public should be properly briefed in other to reduce tension within the system.

The conclusion we can draw in all of these is that whatever happens, let your brand shine

Sure there may be some vital points we have missed, please share your experience and improve the dialogue.

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