In our exclusive Modern Marketing interview, Cheryl Reddy, Managing Partner and Africa Lead at Eclipse Communications, says there is definite value in preparedness regarding reputation management in general and how well brands and businesses respond to crises.
Reddy cited the ‘Crisis of Confidence’ study by Deloitte, which surveyed 300 board members worldwide who highlighted that there is a vulnerability gap between awareness of threats and preparedness to handle them. ‘Only 49% have monitoring, internal communications and processes to detect trouble ahead and only 49% said that they have playbooks for likely issues and scenarios. Lastly, only 32% have engaged in crisis simulation training,’ said Reddy.
‘There were also businesses online who didn’t have the right answers to questions that were posed to them. Often you see a social media response that has not been thought through. It is just the standard ‘thank you for your query, we’ll get back to you’ response. Consumers are seeing through this because it doesn’t look authentic enough,’ she added.
‘What the study shows is the importance of preparedness by answering the questions you don’t want to be asked so that you are ready for them when they do get asked. It also highlighted the value of scenario planning and simulation training, crisis framework planning and social media response banks – it takes a longer time to recover from reputational damage, especially financially and operationally.’
What is your advice for brands seeking to access the African market?
‘We need to stop acting like Africa is a country – it isn’t. Often you see situations where companies and brands focus on trying to have a one-size-fits-all plan for the continent, which doesn’t work. Brands need to take the time to devise targeted plans for target countries and their needs as well as understand the market nuances,’ said Reddy.
‘Brands also can’t assume that their efforts need to be the same as they are for South Africa. For one, the media landscape is different. In Nigeria, for example, it is largely a pay to play space. So it again goes back to understanding each market.’
Reddy added that working with the right partners is key. ‘There are agencies who have deep networks on the continent and can tap into their knowledge and understanding of working on the continent to enable brands to make a more informed decision of where they want to be and how they want to get there.’
As Africa Lead, what is your vision for Eclipse Communications’ continued growth strategy on the continent?
‘We never aimed to be anything other than a South African agency – we are a proudly South African-owned company. We chose to diversify our strategy onto the continent, in line with our local and international clients, whose needs grew to include certain other African countries, particularly sub-Saharan Africa. With a philosophy of, ‘Guiding your growth’ for both the clients we work with as well as the people we employ, we started building a network in the continent to support our clients.
‘For us, it’s about building a functional network in which we understand the micro and macro environment for our clients, the competitor landscape, media landscape and how media want to work. We lead the strategy and planning for our clients and then work with an in-country partner to support us in the execution. Our aim is to grow that network in line with our clients and in a way that we can benefit from because we’re supporting them in the markets they operate in. To this end, we launched an office in Mauritius in May and have four in-country partnerships, namely, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Namibia,’ concluded Reddy.
To find out about Reddy’s top three PR and reputation management trends; keys to success in the industry and the ingredients of a creating successful campaign, watch the video below. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more informative content like this.
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