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Authentic Communication In Times Of Crisis

2020 is being a year of disruption and uncertainty, and the impact seems to grow bigger as we transition from a public health crisis to an economic crisis. For brands and the business owners behind them, the key concern is how to maintain a customer base. Redrafting your marketing strategy can help, but so is investing in a genuine communication plan. In this post, we review the guidelines to deliver authentic communication in times of crisis in a way that builds trust and loyalty to your brand.

The Importance Of Authenticity 

In crisis situations, it is important to remember that appearing as a genuine brand can help sustain trust. Of course, authenticity in communications needs to be underpinned by a deep sense of empathy for your customers and staff needs. 

RELATED: A Guide To Bulletproofing Your Marketing Strategy During A Crisis

Sometimes it may be hard to stay on top of your stakeholders’ expectations, and especially in rapidly-changing situations like the one we live in now. In such cases, authenticity starts with:

  • Asking for feedback frequently before problems happen. Be specific when requesting feedback and make sure you get a clear picture of how people are feeling and what they need. For example, someone who is anxious may need reassuring, whereas someone struggling with a sense of loss will benefit from learning about your vision for the future.
  • -If you made a mistake, authenticity means admitting to it – the sooner you do it, the better. 

Stick To The Basics

When communicating during a crisis, don’t be tempted to reinvent the wheel. Authentic communication is possible using the fundamental tools and techniques and of effective communication. So what exactly are those? Here are some suggestions:

  • Find common pain points between your brand and your customers.
  • Give facts, but don’t overwhelm people with numbers or jargon.
  • Keep it conversational, not scripted.
  • Don’t hide the negatives and balance them with the positives. 
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep. The main goal is to provide relevant information and to reassure the audience.
  • Bring it back to your values, and explain how those values support your crisis response plan.

Building Your Crisis Communication Plan

A crisis communication plan is an internal document that will guide your company through the event, whether it is caused by natural disasters or health emergencies. At the very least, this document should include the following:

  • The why: The reasons and context behind the crisis.
  • The who: Specify who can activate the plan and establish a crisis communications team. You will want to appoint a spokesperson with excellent interpersonal skills too.
  • The how: Outline how you will handle internal and external communications as well as the steps needed to manage them. Also, account for how you will evaluate the response to your communications – you need to know what’s working and what isn’t.
  • The what: Include the communication channels or tools you will use (e.g. website, email, social media, press releases, etc.). 

RELATED: How To Design An Omnichannel Marketing Planning

Remember that crises have stages and so should your communications plan. Each stage has an objective, so you will need to adapt the content of your communications as follows:

  • Early stage: Clear instructional and informative messages.
  • Mid stage: Practical information about how to adapt to the new situation.
  • Final stage: A “what’s next” approach with a focus on recovery.

Five Additional Tips For Authentic Communication In Times Of Crisis

  1. Make sure you do not leave anyone behind, whether they are staff, contractors, suppliers, or neighbouring businesses. You want to be proactive and encourage dialogue with all your stakeholders.
  2. Communicate using your stakeholders’ preferred channels. Social media communications are effective to deliver a crisis response due to their reach and immediacy. Moreover, people are spending more time on those platforms now, but be aware that patterns of engagement have changed.
  3. Keep all crisis communications updates in the same place. This could be a microsite or an FAQ section. 
  4. Acknowledge your weaknesses. Everyone feels vulnerable in a crisis, so admitting to it can build a genuine connection with your audience. Honesty and transparency are the main drivers of trust and can help strengthen your market position.
  5. Make it about people. Highlight the human factor when explaining how your organization is tackling the crisis.


Effective communication in times of crisis requires striking the right balance between being authentic on one side and managing the natural reactions of alarm and confusion. Now is the time to start planning a coordinated communications strategy that shows the most authentic side of your brand. Get in touch today if you’d like to speak to a digital communications specialist about how to make this happen.

Five Ways To Boost Your Lateral Thinking Skills

CEO’s, marketers, business owners today, they all face problems that don’t seem to have a solution. Looking at the state of the world, it’s clear that there’s never been a better time to develop creative problem-solving skills. 

Lateral thinking is a useful skill to have, and not only in times of crisis. It’s also a fresh approach to everyday life. In this post, we’ll look into the value of lateral thinking and discuss five practical tips to improve your creative problem-solving skills.

What Is Lateral Thinking And Why Is It Important?

This concept was coined by Edward de Bono in 1967. This award-winning psychologist compares lateral thinking to a game of chess: The game represents a problem. Players using lateral thinking would not try to use chess pieces to solve the problem. Instead, they would change the pieces or use something else. 

RELATED CONTENT: A Guide To Bulletproofing Your Marketing Strategy During A Crisis

This creative approach is the opposite of logical, top-to-bottom, first-this-then-that, or step-by-step thinking. Lateral thinking allows your mind to move freely and to explore alternatives that would not be visible otherwise. You can compare it to a tree branching out into many new directions and not only up and down its trunk.

This concept is essential because it has real-life applications and plays a crucial role in innovation. De Bono’s idea was adopted by many of the world’s leading multinationals and is still taught in corporate training courses. Lateral thinking is an incredibly valuable skill to have, to the point that it underlines many an interview question.

Sometimes, we cannot find a solution to a problem because we use a conventional thinking approach. As they say, “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got”. Therefore lateral thinking can give us a broader perspective. Going on a tangent can be useful!

According to de Bono, lateral thinking can help correct biases that block or slow down our problem-solving skills. In conventional thinking, we rarely challenge assumptions. And often, we get locked into circular arguments. But lateral thinking allows us to get unstuck and to find a way forward in what would otherwise be a dead end.

So how can you start thinking out-of-the-box?

Five Tips To Improve Lateral Thinking Skills

Lateral thinking may seem counter-intuitive, so commit to frequent practice until your mind gets used to travelling outside of its usual boundaries. Lateral thinking questions are a good starting point to creative problem-solving. 

Here you can find a list of the top lateral thinking questions, with their answers. And here you have a list of 20 lateral thinking puzzles to get you started too.

INTERESTING CONTENT: Nine Ninja Tips To Stand Out At Conferences And Business Events

The following tips can also help you build lateral thinking skills:

  1. The random entry idea: de Bono says that when problem-solving, we need to be open to input. We usually tend to focus, but in lateral thinking, it is ok to let the mind wander. To do this, you can choose a random word from the dictionary or pick an image and find a way to make them fit into a situation.
  2. Alteration: By challenging the things we take for granted, our mind moves outside of the box. Picture a situation and try taking elements out of the picture, or alter the order of a story, then see where that takes you. The key question is “what if?”.
  3. Reverse thinking: Ask yourself “what’s the one thing I should not be doing?” or “what if I stopped doing X?”. Doing the opposite of what conventional wisdom suggests creates the ideal conditions for novel thinking.
  4. Alter the narrative: It’s often said that humans process everything through six master narratives: Quest, Voyage and Return, Rebirth, Comedy, Tragedy, Overcoming the Monster, and Rags to Riches. Choose a situation or a problem, identify the narrative, and reframe it using a different one.
  5. Rolestorming: Think about what someone else would do to tackle your problem. This personage could be a successful business person, a sports figure, a competitor, or even a relative. The more “remote”  or different from you this person is, the more insights you are likely to find.


Conventional thinking has its place, but it also has limitations. On the other hand, practising lateral thinking can help you find unexpected and creative solutions. Developing this skill is an excellent investment in times of crisis, and can open up new lines of thinking that will take your business further. 

To find out how to apply lateral thinking to your corporate strategy, get in touch today with us.

Nine Ninja Tips To Stand Out At Conferences And Business Events

Stand Out At Conferences And Business Events. Despite the growing popularity of virtual and online events, for many professionals, face-to-face networking remains one of the main reasons to attend a conference, if not the most important one, followed by learning. These events deliver information that helps professionals stay relevant and learn about the trends shaping the future of their industry. But often, delegates feel overwhelmed by busy conference schedules and huge events with hundreds or thousands of attendees. The result is, they end up missing the chance to network, which was, in fact, the main reason to attend. If this situation sounds familiar, you’ll want to keep reading to find advice on how to prepare for a conference or business event to ensure you stand out and meet your goals.

Stand out before the conference or business event

Preparation is the key to maximising the benefits of attending a professional event. It all starts with defining the ultimate goal or reason for attending. Goals vary from person to person, but often it will include generating new leads, meeting potential partners, getting referrals, or finding connections for a new role or job.

RELATED: Three Ways In Which Social Media Are Becoming Increasingly Event-Centric

Linked to goal setting, it’s also essential to decide who you would like to meet. The list of speakers circulates beforehand, so take some time to review it. At trade shows, the organiser’s website will often have an exhibitor directory that you can use for the same purpose. You can also follow the event’s hashtag in social media and see who’s talking about it online or planning to attend. Once you’ve made a list, start interacting before the event and if possible, arrange a meeting beforehand. Don’t leave it to chance – we all know how difficult it can be to find someone at a large event.

Business cards are a must, but in some ways, they’re underutilised, since they can be made even more personal by adding a handwritten message. This requires time, but it will make your card and name stand out among hundreds of other attendees who simply hand out their business cards. The message should be friendly and business-like and related to your goal or reason for attending. It can even be a shortened written version of your elevator pitch.

Stand our during the conference or business event

Standing up in front of large groups of strangers can be daunting. But there are ways of doing so in a way that’s helpful to others, so they will be more inclined to remember you.

RELATED: 2019 Exhibition Marketing Template

For example, have a look at the sessions you want to attend and for each session think about a question relevant to your industry that you would like to see answered. If the question isn’t answered during the session, use Q&A time to ask the speaker, or use your questions as conversation starters during breaks.

If a speaker made a point that was particularly helpful or you can relate it to your professional experience, you can use Q&A time to show appreciation. Share a personal story that reinforces the speaker’s point. Remember that storytelling is memorable and powerful and isn’t exclusive to speakers.

If the event is in your home town or in a city you know well, you could organise a meetup after the day’s sessions are over. Get creative and stand out, show attendees hidden gems in the city, or arrange informal meetings at a restaurant near the convention centre, offering insights into the industry in your location. This creates a natural and relaxed framework that can become a solid base for business connections.

Appearances matter, and in the world of casual, a polished and professional outfit can help you stand out from the crowd of delegates. Dressing well according to your own personal brand won’t only make an impact on others, but can also boost your self-confidence.

Don’t forget to make the most of social media: ultimately, these platforms are meant for socialising. Live-tweeting is effective in encouraging interaction, and replies to your tweets can generate exciting conversations that you can later follow up in person.

RELATED: Building Relationship Online With Social Media Marketing

And once the event is over, always follow up on new connections. Go through the business cards you have collected and send a personalised email to everyone you have met.


Standing out at conferences and trade shows doesn’t have to be intimidating, but it requires some planning before and after the event. With a little bit of preparation and attitude, success is in your hands.

One Year Of GDPR And The Outlook For Your Organisation

One Year Of GDPR And The Outlook For Your Organisation

GDPR for your organisation. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect on May 25, 2018. A year later, it seems clear that data protection and privacy rights are taking centre stage on a global scale. And the demands are not a strictly European phenomenon. Data and privacy professionals are counting the days until the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Comparable to GDPR in its scope and requirements, it comes into effect next year. Similar laws are being drafted in countries like Brazil and India.

The run-up to GDPR’s enforcement date last May was fraught with uncertainty. Organisations scrambled to decide how they would adjust their operations to comply with the new regulations. Readiness for GDPR had to be implemented across several departments, creating multiple and unique compliance challenges. Fast forward to May 2019, and organizations are still trying to come to terms with GDPR’s practical impact. Department-specific compliance challenges remain a significant hurdle.

By the end of 2018, and six months after GDPR came into effect, a survey by the International Association Of Privacy Professionals depicted a mixed picture of the status of GDPR compliance. On the one hand, working towards compliance seems easier in practice than it was on paper. Three-quarters of respondents said they had appointed a data protection officer. Three in four claimed they had made changes to products and services for compliance purposes. However, more than half of respondents admitted they were far from achieving compliance. Nearly 20 per cent said full compliance might never be achieved.

As far as organisations are concerned, GDPR compliance has prompted an overdue reconsideration of data security. In their technical infrastructure, management systems, and member data collection and handling procedures.

GDPR Requirements

Here’s a review of GDPR’s requirements as they relate to the business events industry:


GDPR requires explicit consent to store and use data belonging to any EU resident or citizen attending your event. Organizers must specify their reasons to collect data, how data will be used, whether any third parties like suppliers, exhibitors, or sponsors will have access to such data, and for how long. During event registration, attendees must give specific consent to each and every activity that requires data collection, and they must be able to opt out.

Data-breach notification

Event organizers must have data-breach notification procedures in place and be able to demonstrate that they are doing everything in their power to safeguard attendee data. This includes training your entire team, defining best practices, and establishing incident reporting procedures.


Upon request, you must give attendees free-of-charge digital copies of their data as well as details on where the data is being stored and for which purposes.

Right to be forgotten

EU citizens or residents can request that you delete their data. Proof of compliance is also required.


Upon request, you must securely transfer attendee data to a different data controller.

Data protection officers

When involved in the large-scale processing of data, controllers and data processors (which in the case of many event organizers are one and the same) must appoint a data protection officer.

Privacy by design

Privacy and data protection cannot merely be add-ons to your systems but must be integral to the entire organisation.

Where Do We Stand Now?

How far have we come in the meetings industry implementing the requirements above? There are noticeable changes across three main areas:

  • CommunicationsPrivacy, consent, and data protection now govern the interactions between event organizers and attendees, which requires the modification of communication strategies. New terms of service are usually communicated via email. Opt-ins and consent requests also required website or event tech app updates, which now must incorporate footers, banners, or checkboxes, detailing their privacy and cookie policy, as well as users’ rights.
  • Handling Requests — Organizations should be prepared to handle data access requests from attendees or members, who also have the right to request data deletion or amendment. Some organizations have taken a proactive approach and made changes to their association-management systems to enable them to handle these requests appropriately — even if they have had no requests so far.
  • Third-Party Services and Suppliers — Some event organizers use third parties as data processors, and GDPR compliance is expected from vendors and contractors too. In some cases, contracts have had to be rewritten, or suppliers had to be replaced.

These changes hint at a change of mindset among PCOs: For some compliance is not purely a legal issue, but a matter of ethics and organizational culture. Something that adds intrinsic value to an association or organization. This is a promising aspect of GDPR and likely to become even more critical in the future.

What’s Next with GDPR and your Organisation?

It seems clear that GDPR compliance will be an ongoing effort extending beyond the regulations’ enforcement date. On this note, enforcement will become increasingly rigorous: Fines for non-compliance are already being issued, signalling event organizers about the risks of complacency. Key takeaways from the fines already levied are:

  • There are now legal precedents, and the grace period is over. Regulators expect organizations to be proactive regardless of where their headquarters are located or who provides/maintains their data-management systems.
  • Proactivity means making demonstrable efforts to comply — the keyword being demonstrable. No organization is too small or too big to be exempt.
  • Implementing GDPR can get complex, but it’s helpful to focus on the seven basic requirements listed above and be ready to fine-tune them continuously — and not only when you are hosting events.

It is also essential to create mechanisms that reinforce cybersecurity. GDPR readiness audits can take so much of your time and resources that they may interfere or distract you from enforcing other security mechanisms.

Looking ahead, you should also be vigilant about the impact of GDPR on your marketing practices, in particular where email marketing, marketing automation, and public relations are concerned. These should be governed by the principles of GDPR: transparency, accountability, privacy by design, and freely given consent.

Frank M. Waechter is a Europe–based digital marketer specializing in the meetings, incentives, conferences, and events industry as well as associations and small- and mid-size businesses. His company’s services include digital engagement strategy; conference and event social-media marketing; live, on-site digital engagement; and training, digital transformation and speaking.

This article was first published on PCMA.

Health Awareness Days: Keeping the World Informed to Make a Change

Health awareness days are global events created to recognise the impact of these conditions and to raise greater public understanding. There is no doubt that the medical community has made some truly stunning breakthroughs during the past few decades.  Still, there are other illnesses which millions of individuals from all walks of life may eventually have to face. Awareness campaigns can help to generate additional support. Additionally, many of these days will create capital to use towards innovative research and treatment options. A Digital Marketing strategy and hashtag campaigns on Social Media are an active part of today’s campaigns.

Let’s take a closer look.

World Cancer Day: Involve the World #WorldCancerDay #WeCanICan

There are many health days hosted by individual countries. While these are indeed important regarding national awareness, some other events have taken on a truly global nature. One example here can is the World Cancer Day (4 February).

As cancer recognises no borders, races or religions. It only makes sense that this day will help to generate a massive amount of support. This event increases recognition, reduces certain stigma. It also attempts to dispel many of the myths associated with such a potentially life-changing disease. Thanks to the digital community and the rise of social media circles, World Cancer Day has indeed taken on global proportions. Look at the informative website created for World Cancer Day.

Health Awareness Days and Their Impact Upon Declining Diseases

In the past, being diagnosed with certain illnesses would often equate to a real death sentence. Advancements in medical technology have nonetheless eradicated many of these diseases. Still, conditions such as tuberculosis exist in portions of the world that are less developed. For example, the world health organisation estimates that no less than 1.3 million individuals died from this disease in 2012 alone. Many of these deaths occurred in the Third World (WHO). World Tuberculosis Day (24 March) is intended to highlight the presence of this condition. It is also intended to raise public awareness in regards to the ways of prevention. Generating public interest (particularly in third-world nations) is the first step towards elimination this condition entirely.

Striving to Find Cures

World AIDS Vaccine Day occurs on 18 May every year. This concept goes back to as far as 1997. Since this time, the event has raised funds to use towards researching and developing a cure for this crippling condition. While fundraising is indeed critical, this health awareness day also seeks to emphasise the importance of developing new technologies to better respond to a truly global epidemic.

Tackling Mental Health Challenges

Not all health awareness days are rooted in physical diseases alone. We need to recognise that millions of individuals from all walks of life suffer from illnesses such as anxiety, depression and general feelings of isolation. For that reason why World Suicide Prevention Day is so critical. Held on 10 September every year, this event helps to increase public awareness in regards to this fatal condition in hopes to decrease suicide rates over time. Once again, public awareness and doing away with common misconceptions are both core concepts within this campaign.

These are only three examples of the numerous global health awareness days which taking place each and every year. Whether referring to World Osteoporosis Day, World Food Day or even Virus Appreciation Day, the fact of the matter is that public involvement is critical to combating many debilitating conditions. Such increased awareness will help the medical community make great leaps forward in the years to come.

For more information please check the websites of World Health Organisation, United Nations and other health organisations.

Feel free to import the health awareness days 2017 calendar below in your personal Google Calendar by clicking the + Google Calendar button below. (NOTE: WE REMOVED THE CALENDAR BECAUSE IT WAS OUTDATED BUT KEPT THE ARTICLE FOR INFORMATION)