UniLodge: Leading a New Standard of Accommodation
Discuss About The Strategic Planning For Public Relations?
UniLodge is an Australian company that provides students with holistic accommodation facilities. Currently, the company owns over 60 properties that are distributed around Australia and New Zealand making it a market leader. UniLodge’s unique selling points include the provision of quality, innovative, efficient and amazing student living experiences. Therefore, this crisis communication plan helping UniLodge to manage any potential crisis and to mitigate any severe consequences on the organization and students if such cases arises. The company’s primary objective is to ensure that the students and other important stakeholders such as parents feel secure and have a peace of mind. The UniLodge’s Public Relations department has been tasked with managing all information in case of any crisis.
- Any situations that may necessitate a speedy and well-coordinated action
- Any condition that may have significant impact on the operations and market reputation of the company.
Undeniably, every organization recognizes the inherent need to adequately prepare comprehensive responses in case of an emergency or crisis. Such responses must include various relevant policies that can effectively coordinate internal and external scrutiny and communications and seal any possible damage to an organization. Once UniLodge PR team have established that an emergency or a crisis exists, this crisis communication plan will be fully and strictly implemented. As such, the following are the objectives of this crisis communication plan:
- To prepare UniLodge workforce and management to effectively and quickly manage emergency communications
- To help UniLodge employees to adequately respond to a crisis in a cohesive manner full of professionalism
- To strategically help UniLodge to manage the distribution of critical and sensitive data and information to the public and media
- To identify main spokesperson(s) for UniLodge during crisis situations
This crisis communication plan will help UniLodge to avail factual data and information that aim at repairing or sustaining the company’s image during a crisis. The information released to the public during such times must depict the company as a reliable partner with stronger values.
In general, a crisis communication plan is an important brand positioning strategy that can be used by UniLodge to create positive opportunities to market itself. Therefore, the primary purpose of this crisis communication plan is to provide a clear course of actions during crisis that will help UniLodge to reinforce its position as a market leader. Notably, the content of this crisis communication plan will be used by UniLodge staff and other stakeholders to administer and effectively evaluate all aspects of communication especially during crisis (Wilcox, Ault, & Agee, 2006).
The following are possible crisis that UniLodge’s personnel, customers and other relevant stakeholders could face. The analysis of these possible crisis scenarios aim at helping UniLodge to anticipate and adequately prepare to face such challenges (Grunig, 2013).
- There is a possibility of car breaks given that UniLodge residents have to park in the Casuarina shopping centre which is relatively unsafe
- There is a possibility of vandalism cases in Darwin particularly from kids who occasionally breaks into people’s cars to steal valuables
- The possibility of fire incidences is also a serious crisis that can significantly affect the operations of the company. This is because some of the property residents occasionally forgets and burn food when cooking resulting into smoke that sometimes triggers fire alarms
- Poor surveillance at the facilities is also a possible crisis that need a clear response plan. For example, given that there are no security guards who can adequately patrol the premises may result into a security crisis
- Employees should promptly report any crisis scenario to the General Manager immediately it is detected
- Only the official spokesperson(s) are allowed to release any information regarding the crisis to the media and public
- The PR department will direct and coordinate every response to the crisis
- Any comment by the staff on the ongoing crisis must be professional and transparent
- The staff are required to remain discreet and confidential when responding to the crisis situation
- UniLodge insist on opportune, practical, receptive and action-leaning responses
- UniLodge stresses on maintaining a positive relationship with the media and public during crisis to augment confidence in their services and products
To ensure a quick, precise, thoughtful and accountable response to a crisis situation, UniLodge will ensure there is an effective coordination of communication processes (Sriramesh & Vercic, 2003). Specifically, during an emergency situation, the Managing Director will serve as will serve as the official company’s spokesperson and assisted by the PR Manager who will be the designated backup. The PR team and other UniLodge staff will refer any question from the public and media to the designated spokespersons. The following are the appropriate action plans during a crisis:
- The company’s General Manager will determine whether there should be an official statement to immediately respond to the crisis
- The PR team will formulate relevant responses
- The PR team will share their thoughts with the crisis communication team and other key staff (including the manager) who will then strategically deliberate on how to manage the communication surrounding the crisis
- The manager will determine how the information should be disseminated
- The manager will discuss the statement and responses with the employees and any other relevant stakeholder before going public
- UniLodge management should then ensure that all the students and employees are safe
- Adequate internal preparations for a possible crisis
- Promptly notify the CEO and other relevant players
- Account for the safety of students and staff at the facility
- Institute a crisis communication team that will analytically review the situation and develop appropriate strategy
- Direct the crisis communication team to develop key messages that will be used to respond to all media and public inquiries
- Notify UniLodge staff on the existence of the crisis
- Alert the company’s marketing department and board to ensure that there is promptness in responding to the crisis
- Distribute media releases through the identified channels
Crisis Situation and PR's Objective
UniLodge will assess its relationship with the media especially during moments of crisis. To ensure a positive relation with the media, UniLodge will ensure that they remain frank and courteous when responding to their questions (Curtis et al., 2010). The crisis management team members will be required to avail themselves for interviews or any other interaction with the media and public once sanctioned by the relevant managers.
- A crisis communication lead person (General Manager) who will coordinate all the responses
- A spokesperson who will directly respond to questions from the media and public
- A comprehensive assessment of the crisis situation and establish relevant facts
- A holistic response to the crisis
- An effective plan that can be used to coordinate internal and external communications
- A competent PR team that can help the spokesperson to effectively manage the media, contact the company’s partners and accurately record the crisis
- They reach out through phone calls to important internal audiences that may include all staff members
- They initiate an effective media and public outreach campaigns
- The company’s website and all other social media sites are updated with relevant information concerning the crisis
- The company’s voice mail is frequently updated to capture any critical information from the stakeholders
- The effectiveness the PR messages constantly evaluated during the crisis
- The company’s key audiences are constantly updated with the progress on crisis management
- There is adequate distribution of post-crisis communications to the key audiences
Prompt response to the arising issues during crisis situations is a fundamental component of this plan. UniLodge aim at developing a clear and consistent response to the situation (Botan & Hazleton, 2010). While the designated spokesperson will be tasked with controlling the flow of information, UniLodge will issue a detailed staff briefing note that will sustain consistency in reporting and perceptions.
An integral component to effective crisis communication is prompt response to diverse issues that are likely to jeopardise the operations of the company. The company should first develop a fast response to the crisis to ensure clarity and consistency in reporting (Dozier, Grunig & Grunig, 2013). Correspondingly, the company should appoint a single spokesperson to avoid uncontrolled flow of information and sustain its consistency in reporting the crisis. The briefing note should be based on the following stages of crisis communication:
The briefing note will detail how the staff should behave during a crisis based on the 5Cs of crisis communications. UniLodge will use the five C’s of communication crisis to avail pertinent attributes that the company’s PR manager and employees must assume when facing the press and interviews. The first attribute is depiction of competency as this will help UniLodge to maintain public confidence. The second C stands for credibility and stresses on the inherent ability of the designated spokesperson to carefully rely information during crisis without any contradiction (Newsom, Turk, & Kruckeberg, 2012). The spokespersons will not appear to be defending the company but rather should stick to explaining the organization’s response strategies.
The next C stands for commitment and entail directing the staff to set and maintain the right tone when addressing a crisis. This include an expression of a strong assurance that the company is doing everything possible to address the problem. The next C denotes caring and stresses on the significance of remaining compassionate and expressing genuine regret on behalf of UniLodge. The final C examines the company’s capability of arriving at applicable solutions to the crisis.
Coordination of Communication Processes during the Crisis
At this particular stage, UniLodge will issue various statements to the media and allow the employees to undertake interviews (Grunig, 2009).
At this stage, the public and media are expected to develop diverse perceptions and elucidations about the crisis, and are more likely to start directing blames to some imagined figures or situations (Smith, 2013). As such, UniLodge’s PR team should ensure that the company’s brand reputation is protected by issuing flawless statements about the crisis and effectively address the speculations surrounding the crisis.
At this final stage, UniLodge will ensure a full restoration of their reputation that may have been damaged as a result of the crisis. This final stage is important because it will enable UniLodge to reinforce public trust and confidence (Veil, Buehner, & Palenchar, 2011). The company will achieve this through ensuring that every outcome of internal investigations on the crisis are provided to the public and media.
- Media—Print and Electronic
- Families of Dwellers
- Families of Employees
- Surrounding communities
- Demonstrate deep concern about the affected individuals
- Clearly explicate how UniLodge is remedying the crisis
- Be consistent and should never contradict the official position of the company
- Remain transparent, straightforward and provide detailed information on the crisis
- Never give a “no comment” response when addressing the media
- Never rely on speculations or speak off the record
- Be readily available to respond to inquiries from the media and public
- Issue written statements to the media
- Notifying the General Manager about the crisis
- Evaluating the condition and level of impact and informing relevant stakeholders
- Issuing official statement on the company’s position
- Gathering acknowledged specifics
- Informing the company’s stakeholders about the crisis
- Verifying the nature and scope of the crisis
- Establishing the number of casualties
- Crafting various messages to be released to the media
- Verifying and sustaining the flow of information
- Constantly updating relevant authorities on the progress
- Extensive consultations with other important stakeholders
- Choosing a designated media spokesperson
- Designing and discussing media strategies
- The general manager approving press releases
- Reviewing various strategies that the company will use to deal with the media
- Proceeding with the media releases
- Informing the media of subsequent updates
- Making follow-ups on media questions
- Monitoring media coverage
- Assessing and correcting possible inaccuracies
- Advising the media on any significant development
- Evaluating the general effectiveness of this crisis communication plan
- The number of casualties
- The amount of property damaged
- The causes of the crisis
- The reprieve efforts
- The extent of impact
- Possible legal redresses
- A comprehensive situation report on the crisis
- How the company first responded to the crisis
- Relations with the media during the crisis
- Short-term responses and communication processes
- Date for the next meeting
Method of Communication
Direct phone calls
Direct phone calls
Families of students
Families of Employees
- Whether the company was successful in implementing the plan
- What processes needs special improvements
- What the company learnt from the crisis
In general, UniLodge should ensure improved openness to the public and media by releasing detailed information on the crisis and remaining as straightforward as possible. This will depict the organization’s genuine tenacity towards deciphering the crisis and address any other arising concern. This sentiment is supported by Fearn-Banks (2016) who argued that an effective crisis communication should provide accurate and consistent information to the media and public to strengthen the respective company’s image. This explains why UniLodge has placed more emphasis on its effective crisis communication among other public relations plans (Lando, 2014). Indeed, a crisis can cause irreparable damages to the reputation of a company is not mitigated properly and promptly. Remarkably, an instrumental element in crisis communication is ensuring consistency in responses to preserve the credibility and image of a company. This is what this UniLodge crisis communication plan aim at achieving both in the short and long-run.
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