Are you at risk of being collateral damage from your stakeholders?

The current Hepatitis A contamination that is engulfing Nanna’s frozen berries is bad news for the company, but also bad news for its stakeholders.

In my previous post, I wrote about the benefit that public relations gives in identifying and working with those audiences that have an impact on how an organisation runs or the delivery of its service or product to the community.

The Nanna’s product recall is a perfect example of this. While on the surface it may seem like the issue lies squarely with Nanna’s and the growers of their produce, there is a great risk of the issue impacting a number of other organisations. For example:

  • Supermarkets are coming under fire in relation to the sourcing of the products of their shelves, as well as making it easier for customers to identify the country of origin of produce.
  • Regulators are coming under similar fire around labeling of food products
  • Competitors in the frozen berry market will come under increased scrutiny from consumers as the issue has an impact on the industry’s brand
  • The fresh food industry will suffer similar scrutiny over the country of origin of products

Many organisations will (hopefully) create issues plans to prepare for potential direct risks to their organisation from issues involving their own products, services, operations and staff, but it is important that organisations also consider the risk that may come from their stakeholders.

Think about your own organisation, and its stakeholders. How are you making sure that your stakeholders are as being run as well as your own organisation? What will the potential impact be if they are not?


So why do we need to communicate?

It is rare when I tell someone that you work as a public relations consultant that people instantly know what you are talking about, which is ironic for an industry that centres around communication.

Communication is one of the most basic elements that makes up the social fabric of our world. The ability of humans to be able to tell, listen, inform, explain, persuade, read, write, draw and watch is what allows us to organise towards a common purpose.

As a public relations and communications consultant, my role is to look at the way that organisations are communicating and ensuring that their communication is the most effective for its audience and its purpose. It may be looking at how an organisation communications as a whole (communication strategy), how it communicates to meet a specific objective (a public relations campaign), how it deals with potential threats (issues management), how it engages with the community (community engagement) or how it deals with specific audiences (internal, stakeholders, media).

How does it differ from marketing?

Marketing’s purpose is the create and bring to market a product that meets the needs or adds value to the target audience.

The purpose of public relations is much broader and deals with all of the groups that an organisation must deal with to make sure it has a positive environment from which to conduct its business.

Think of these groups and how important it may be to communicate with them:

  • Your employees who are the face of your product, service and organisation
  • Government authorities who create the regulatory environment for you to operate in
  • Media who can give third-party endorsement to your products, company and brand
  • Unions, professional bodies and your industry (including your competitors) who may have an impact on your operations or on the standing of your industry
  • The local community in which you operate

While public relations can be used to directly support marketing, think about how difficult it may be for an organisation to conduct its business, if it loses the relationship with any of the groups above?