Get found online with YouTube SEO

Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine, after Google? And it is becoming more popular year over year. Video marketing in particular is becoming a mainstay as social media and search engines give it special emphasis in search results and newsfeeds.

According to YouTube, more than 300 hours of video were uploaded to the site in 2015. With so much clutter, businesses can’t expect prospects to find and watch their videos nevertheless have a video go viral.

Therefore, instead of going into all the reasons why your company should be on YouTube or partake in video marketing, I will explain the basics of how to get your video found with YouTube SEO.

Think in keywords

You most likely know the importance of using search engine optimization (SEO) for your website, but have you thought about the importance of optimizing your videos with relevant keywords as well?

As with any web page or blog article, it’s best to select a focus keyword that relates to the video topic. Make sure the keyword is in the video title, description and tags. Research to see if there are currently any videos showing up in search results for a particular keyword. If so, it’s likely a good keyword to use for your video.

Utilize video descriptions

You have a 5,000-character limit in the description area of the video. This is the perfect opportunity to include engaging, keyword-rich written content on your video’s page. Include important keywords that relate to your video. Include external links to other videos or landing pages that discuss the same topic.

YouTube and Google use your video’s title, description and tags to rank your video. Take advantage of the high character count and include long video descriptions.

Attract views and likes immediately

Views and engagement are the most important factors in achieving a high-ranking video on YouTube and Google. The No. 1 way to attract an audience is to provide quality content with an engaging title.

By “quality,” I don’t mean it has to be professionally developed. It simply needs to address a common need of your viewers and provide a solution.

“How to” videos, for example, are becoming increasingly popular as many people prefer to watch how something is done rather than read about it. To put it simply, provide value to your viewers.

Also, share your video on social media and other online communities that can relate to or are interested in your video’s topic.

Increase your channel subscriptions

On YouTube, subscribers are essentially people who follow your YouTube channel to ensure they see your latest videos. To increase the number of subscribers, it is best to include a call to action within every video that encourages the viewer to subscribe to your channel. This can be done by verbally saying it within the video and/or by using annotations (graphics or buttons that have a call to action).

Adding a YouTube “subscribe” widget to your website and blog can also help increase your subscriber base.

 

In summary, if you want to optimize YouTube videos, it is important that you provide valuable content, create engaging titles, include important keywords in a long video description, share it on social media and increase the number of subscribers.

The more keywords and engagement you have associated with the video, the more clout you will receive from YouTube and the search engines.

 

 

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 26-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™. Kelly is one of 35 certified brand strategists in North America and works with companies to establish brands and build brand value for their businesses. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, [email protected], @brandpro, or for more information, www.greencrest.com.

Brand heroes that dominate

Every company dreams of making a difference, being an unforgettable company that inspires, motivates and connects with its customers. These companies are the brand heroes that dominate the market.

While it takes time to develop an unforgettable brand, start the process of transforming your company into a beloved brand with these three strategies.

Champion a cause

At a recent meeting of brand certified specialists, I was introduced to LifeProfit founder, Dustin Garis. Our discussion centered on brands that transform their marketing messages — better, faster, less cost — to messages about social changes that relate to the brand, with no brand benefits mentioned.

Always menstrual pads, for example, became a brand hero in its #LikeAGirl campaign, which centered around changing public perception of the saying “you run like a girl.” Always rallied against the stereotype by promoting strong young girls who run fast and hard — the same as boys. As a result, Always has become a hero that stands up for young girls and promotes the strength of women.

Innovate around human experience

The human experience is especially important to companies that sell to a younger customer base — a 2014 Harris Group study revealed that 72 percent of millennials prefer to spend their money on experiences instead of material objects.

An example Garis refers to in his TEDx Talk is how Zappos, a major shoe retailer, tapped into the human experience and became an unforgettable company for him when he called about a pair of running shoes.

Instead of trying to sell him the shoes, the salesperson told him to try them out at a mud run near his town and signed him up for the run. Garis took her up on the offer and in doing so, gained “life profit,” thus experiencing a human moment he will never forget.

Be memorable

Hearing something 1,000 times is less impactful than experiencing it once.

You might recall the recent McDonald’s Pay with Lovin’ campaign where customers were rewarded with a free meal for calling a family member and saying “I love you.” Or, how Coke’s new campaign, Share a Coke and a Song, personalized its products by adding famous song lyrics on bottles, i.e. “Lean on me” and “We are the champions.”

Or, the Expedia Trip-A-Day Giveaway, where consumers who downloaded its new app were entered into a daily drawing to win a trip. The company also capitalized on the opportunity to survey participants.

The most memorable part of Garis’ message — and one that hits home — is how mundane life becomes if all we do is look forward to the weekend week in and week out, spend endless nights watching television and only change our routine a couple of times a year for vacation.

Life profit, as Garis describes it, is not the number of days you live, but the number of days you remember. As a business and a brand, we have a unique opportunity to make a memorable and meaningful experience for our customers.

 

Kelly Borth is the CEO and chief strategy officer of GREENCREST, a 25-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™. Kelly is one of 35 certified brand strategists in North America and works with companies to establish brands and build brand value for their businesses.

Storytelling, with science, can strike a chord

John P. Kotter, a professor of leadership at the Harvard Business School, once said, “Never underestimate the power of a good story.” Kotter believes in the power of a story to strike a chord in people and, perhaps, to motivate them to change.

Science has proven that words have the power to move people to tears, to action and — yes — to purchase. Researchers at Emory University in 2012 found that certain metaphors — “the singer had a velvet voice” or “he had leathery hands” — activated the sensory cortex of the brain. Similar phrases — “the singer had a pleasing voice” or “he had strong hands” — didn’t cause the same reaction.

Smell-a-vision

A 2006 study in Spain that was published in NeuroImage showed that when people read words with strong odor associations — coffee, perfume or cinnamon — the primary olfactory cortex of the research subjects’ brains lighted up.

A recent series of Post Cereals commercials uses such key words to play to the viewer’s sense of smell.

One of the commercials shows Diana Hunter, a Post Cereals employee, talking about her job as a cereal packager. The happy employee tells a story about how she went grocery shopping after work one day, smelling of cereal. At the store, people were sniffing around her saying, “Mmmm, I smell cookies.” Diana says she told the people, “Aw, you just smell me! I just got out of work. That’s Honey Bunches of Oats. Don’t eat me now!”

Since we don’t have smell-a-vision, the words play to the viewers’ olfactory senses. The commercial also does a good job of letting a happy employee tell a story about her job at the cereal plant.

Emotional connections

Research has also shown that we all spend about one-third of our time daydreaming. Yet a really good story will make us sit up and pay attention.

By now, for example, we all know which of the commercials that ran during the 2016 Summer Olympics caught our attention and touched people. Those same ads are probably the ones you’ve been seeing in your news feed because the ads take the power of words and move a person to action, even if it’s just sharing it on Facebook.

The Procter & Gamble “Thank You, Mom” spot is one such ad. It shows athletes in dangerous, dark, demoralizing situations — a tornado headed toward their home, some men whistling catcalls at a young girl and a coach yelling at a young athlete. Through it all, the athletes’ mothers are always there, encouraging them to move on until we see the athletes’ victorious moments on the Olympic stage.

The commercial concludes with a simple statement: “It takes someone strong to make someone strong. Thank you, Mom. … P&G – proud sponsor of Moms.”

That spot is meant to tug at the heartstrings — make you cry, even — and make you remember that P&G cares about all moms, the same moms, consequently, who do the household shopping.

The sounds — from the scary scream of a tornado at the end to the cheering adulation of the Olympics crowd at the end — help pull viewers into the emotion of the story. The bond between the child and mother plays to the connection that many viewers have had or want to have in their lives.

Top brands know the power of the brain to make that emotional connection, and they capitalize on that neuroscience by using storytelling to capture an audience.

 

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 25-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™. Kelly is one of 35 certified brand strategists in North America and works with companies to establish brands and build brand value for their businesses.

Create a website analytics measurement plan in 5 steps

If your business runs online sales or marketing campaigns, it’s important to know which activities are working and which aren’t. Accurate data is key in making smart decisions, and the power of online analytics comes into play.

Website analytics tools such as Google AdWords often include key metrics — the number of website visitors during a given time period, the average time spent on the website and the number of views for specific webpages. The tools may also provide interesting data: the percentage of website traffic from different sources, the percentage of new versus returning visitors or the visitors’ geographic locations.

In order to view the data that best suit your business needs, you may need to tailor it.

You must develop a website analytics measurement plan to decide what you need to measure and implement the data. Follow these steps to begin building an analytics infrastructure:

Step 1: Determine your business goals

To obtain meaningful data, your analytics measurement plan must integrate with the business’s goals. This step must involve the decision-makers in your company. Ask some important questions: “What are our business needs right now?” “Where are we headed?” “What obstacles are in the way of us getting there?”

Step 2: Define your digital strategy and tactics

Depending on your goals, the website’s purpose(s) may vary. Websites often exist: to sell a product or service, increase brand recognition and engagement, inform or entertain visitors, drive sales leads or publish content that encourages return visits.

Tactics are the steps you take to achieve your goal. This may include a blog to help drive engagement or frequent website visits, a website or mobile app to sell products or a video to help demonstrate a product or tell a story.

Step 3: Identify the data that matter most

What are the key performance indicators that are most meaningful? What numbers help determine the campaign’s success? If you have an e-commerce website, a KPI is the amount of revenue generated. If you have a lead-generating website, you may be interested in the number of forms or inquiries submitted.

Step 4: Decide how to segment your data

Properly segmented data is more relevant to your business and enables you to make wiser decisions.

Segmenting analytics by marketing channel shows which source sends the most website traffic or drives the most conversions. Segmenting by geographic regions shows the visitors’ locations. This information can help determine success if you’re running a campaign specific to a certain region or looking to open a new brick-and-mortar store.

Step 5: Determine your targets

Once you select the KPIs and data segments, identify your target metrics. If online form submissions are important, what’s the value of each submission and how many per month (or quarter) are considered a success?

 

 

Properly done, website analytics become a critical part of daily business activities and decisions. A measurement and implementation plan should always be a cyclical process in order to meet changing business needs.

 

Kelly Borth is the CEO and chief strategy officer of GREENCREST, a 25-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™. Kelly is one of 35 certified brand strategists in North America and works with companies to establish brands and build brand value for their businesses.

7 tips to enhance your lead generation marketing

Finding new customers is the lifeblood of most businesses. Few of us have customers lining up at the door, so “hunting” for new customer leads is a critical component of generating revenue. Yet, according to a report by BPM Forum, most companies never follow up on 80 percent of the leads they generate.

With some strategic efforts, you can ensure that valuable lead generation efforts are not wasted at your company.

Use the right marketing tool

Make certain you’re using lead generation tactics, if you’re trying to generate leads.

Marketing tactics, like email, direct mail, trade shows and pay-per-click ads are designed primarily to generate leads. Other marketing tactics, such as print ads, public relations and social media, are better at creating buzz and brand awareness. Use the right tool for the right job.

Map your lead process

Marketing is expensive and you don’t want to waste dollars on leads that fall through the cracks. Create a written procedure that maps exactly what happens to every lead the moment it enters your database.

Track, measure

Measuring and counting leads is one of the easiest metrics in the marketing tool bag, as is tracking which marketing tactic does the best job of generating the best leads. Metrics like cost-per-lead are a good start, but lead-to-sale ratio is even better, because you should be able to track a lead all the way to a sale.

Define a good lead vs. a so-so lead

Work with your sales and marketing teams to describe the ideal customer in terms of demographics, job title and job function. But don’t stop there; dig deeper to identify the customer’s needs, desires and concerns.

Armed with this information, tailor your messaging to the customer’s specific needs.

Develop a lead scoring system

Once you’ve defined a good lead, develop a lead scoring system based on demographics, as well as customer actions. Visiting your website, stopping by your trade show booth, attending a webinar or downloading a white paper from your website, for example, can all increase the lead score assigned to a potential customer.

The higher the score, the more likely the customer is to make a purchase.

Keep trying

Don’t throw away a lead just because they say “no” the first time. Send the lead back to marketing, so it can be nurtured until the lead is ready to re-engage with the sales team.

Marketing, sales alignment

Make sure the sales and marketing teams are on the same page. The marketing team should keep nurturing leads until the lead achieves a certain score in your lead scoring system. At that point, the lead is ready to be turned over to sales. Both teams need to agree and align on this process.

 

These simple steps will improve your efforts to attract new customers. They also will help you properly vet each valuable lead before turning it over to sales. More importantly, you’ll be able to determine which of your lead-generation marketing tactics performs the best, and then you can adjust accordingly.

 

Kelly Borth is the CEO and chief strategy officer of GREENCREST, a 25-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™.

4 strategies to improve bottom line, generate leads

Most business owners know that the best time to sell a business or attract potential buyers or investors is when that business is healthy. And one mark of a healthy business is a strong bottom line.

It pays, therefore, for business owners to pay attention to how well they are attracting sales leads and making sure that customers can find you where they searching for solutions — online.

To break through to your audience, here are four sure-fire strategies to generate leads and cement brand loyalty for years to come.

Make it easy for people to find you

The first rule of online lead generation is to make sure customers can find your website. Make sure you have an optimized website.

You can optimize your website by identifying the keywords and search terms customers use to find services like yours. Then, once you know the most popular search terms, make sure you use them prominently throughout your website.

You can also pay to make sure your page shows up first in search results by bidding or paying on keyword phrases relevant to your target market and search engine. In addition, social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter offer ads that will target a specific audience.

Listen and offer good advice

Social media can be a tremendous source of leads. But in order to succeed, you must educate and not try to sell. People are tired of the constant barrage of marketing messages.

Instead, customers are looking for useful, educational information that will help them do something better. Listen in to the conversations on social media.

After you have a good feel for the dialogue, chime in with your own unique insight. Better yet, start a blog and post at least twice a week.

Do everything you can to capture email addresses

Just attracting people to your website is OK, but convincing a Web visitor to give you their email address allows you to continue the conversation.

The best way to do this goes back to point number two, and that is you should offer visitors to your website something of value. Free infographics, white papers and e-books are some of the many types of content people want, and they will generate online leads.

Maximize your hard work

You’ve created good content and you have a list of email addresses. But to maximize your efforts, you must stay in touch with those leads to avoid letting them get cold.

If they liked your white paper, send your eBook next. Follow up a few weeks after that with another piece of content.

Meanwhile watch your website to see if they return. If so, it’s time to turn this valuable lead over to your sales team.

Four bonus tips

  1. Update your company profile in online directories.
  2. Make sure your website is mobile ready.
  3. If your business is local, make sure you register with local directories.
  4. Don’t forget, customer reviews are a powerful tool for adding credibility. Look into services like Yelp or Google My Business.

 

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 25-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™. Kelly is one of 35 certified brand strategists in North America and works with companies to establish brands and build brand value for their businesses.

Tips for a successful merger or acquisition

A merger or acquisition is a sensitive process for all parties involved. Misinformation can abound, egos can be bruised and business relationships can be damaged.

One major cause of problems for companies are rumors and misconceptions that can run rampant through all levels of employees and stakeholders, as well as communities surrounding the businesses. Preventing inaccurate information from spreading is vital to all parties involved.

Communications planning should happen well in advance of an announcement, even though actual communication may occur a week, a few days or even hours before or proceeding a closed deal.

Implementing a transparent communications program ensures that employees and the marketplace understand exactly how the deal affects them. Without transparency, employees and stakeholders begin to lose confidence in the new company.

Both groups want all their questions answered, and they want them answered yesterday. Flawless response time and communication routes are crucial to effectively ease the concerns of employees, investors, vendors, customers and even the media.

Quick, precise response

Companies must prepare to beat fast-paced social media and text rumors, as soon as a merger or acquisition seems imminent. Management should immediately identify “key messages” that contain useful and comprehensive information.

Initiating a proactive strategy — including face-to-face meetings with those most affected by the deal, a schedule of updates and a plan for 11th-hour changes — is essential to create a smooth transition process.

Nothing is worse than having your employees find out about a major change in the company from acquaintances. Why didn’t anyone at work inform them? Will they lose their jobs? Will their co-workers lose their jobs? What about benefits packages? These concerns should be addressed before the rumor mill kicks into action.

Internal communications

When announcing a merger or acquisition, it’s imperative to provide accurate information and avoid making promises that cannot be kept. If management takes the time to discuss the deal’s benefits and drawbacks, employees are more likely to respond positively, instead of resisting change.

Employees expect straightforward and honest information about what the deal means for them. Anticipate questions that may arise and have a solid answer for each. Regular updates should be communicated through management, question-and-answer sessions, staff meetings and company newsletters and emails.

External communications

Alerting employees should be the top priority, but other stakeholders — customers, vendors, community members and other key audiences — are equally important. Communicating with key media outlets allows a company to better control the message by providing information directly to the media, rather than allowing misinformed sources to speculate about the deal.

 
The perfect mix for internal and external communication plans involves early and comprehensive communications planning, implementing communications quickly when ready, utilizing all available communication routes and delivering clear and accurate messages.

Companies that make communications plans a priority during a merger or acquisition will emerge from the process as an organization that stakeholders, employees and the media can trust.

 

Kelly Borth is the CEO and chief strategy officer of GREENCREST, a 25-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™. Kelly is one of 35 certified brand strategists in North America and works with companies to establish brands and build brand value for their businesses.

Growing revenue by nurturing leads

Generating leads — for most companies — is a relatively straightforward process of attracting website visits, trade show contacts, buying lists, outbound email campaigns or telemarketing, among other things.

The problem is that most of these leads (73 percent, according to MarketingSherpa) are not yet ready to buy — or to even talk to a salesperson. But it’s a mistake to ignore those leads. Studies report that 80 percent of leads not ready to buy today will go on to buy from you or a competitor within the next 24 months.

This is where lead nurturing fits in.

Lead nurturing defined

Lead nurturing is the process of creating a relevant and consistent dialogue with potential customers through regularly scheduled, customized communications.

Lead nurturing is typically focused on converting leads that are already in your database, with a goal of earning their business when they are ready to buy — next month, next quarter or next year.

How it works

Envision your sales process as an upside down funnel. Leads enter at the wide end of the funnel. Once leads are in the funnel, you need to nurture them with helpful, relevant information that moves potential buyers through each stage of consideration at a natural pace until they’re ready to be passed on to sales.

It starts with building a number of different customer tracks to address various products of interest, pain points and common objections during each stage of the sales cycle. Leads are placed on a track based on what you know about them.

Here is an example of three tracks based on key customer questions:

  • Early stage — education: Do I have a problem? Does it impact my business? How are others solving it?
  • Middle stage — solution: Will this solve my problem? Is this the best way to improve my business?
  • Late stage – selection: Can I justify this expense? Is this vendor a trusted partner?

A common mistake marketers make is to think of lead nurturing as email communication. Instead, think of it as a workflow or series of communications in which every step has a clear and concise objective, whether it is moving someone to the next stage, or driving another desirable action.

The end result

Nurturing has the power to significantly speed up your sales cycle, with plenty of research to back up this assertion:

  • Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads. (DemandGen Report, 2014)
  • Companies that excel in lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at 33 percent lower cost per lead. (Forrester Research, 2014)
  • Successful lead nurturing breeds educated, gratified customers who channel their satisfaction into their purchase sizes, making 47 percent larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (Kapost, 2014)

A planned lead nurturing process actively builds new relationships with prospective customers and keeps a company top of mind.

With a nurturing program in place, prospects are no longer getting barraged with generic sales emails — instead they are receiving targeted communications based on their inquiries, interests and more. Perhaps that is why the sales results are dramatically better.

 

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 25-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™. Kelly is one of 35 certified brand strategists in North America and works with companies to establish brands and build brand value for their businesses.

Engaging employees to live the brand

The Chief Marketing Officers Council and Executive Networks Inc. collaborated in 2015 to produce a report titled, “Making the Workplace a Brand-Defining Space.” The report explored ways in which marketing and human resource leaders could engage employees to bring a company’s values, ethics, commitments and qualities to life within the organization.

What I loved about the report is that it explored social media platforms being used by leading consumer brands to retain and recruit, build customer-centric cultures, recognize and reward innovation and output, and drive productivity, performance and motivation by “gamifying” the workplace.

Start the conversation

According to the report, areas of conversation included such questions as:

  • Does your company have a formal brand platform with shared values, ethics and collective buy-in?
  • How important is your brand persona to employee recruitment and customer gratification?
  • What value does management place on organizational branding and employee engagement?
  • Do you have a well-defined corporate culture that is universally embraced by the organization? If so, how has this been achieved? If not, what is lacking?
  • How well do your employees reinforce and deliver on brand promises and claims?
  • How are you encouraging, rewarding, measuring and amplifying this?
  • To what degree is your brand personality reflected in your people and workplace?
  • In what ways are you engaging, motivating and recognizing employees to underscore brand qualities?
  • How are work styles changing and what are you doing to adjust to the millennial mindset?
  • Which platforms, methodologies, mobile applications or protocols are you using to do this?
  • Which business events, milestones or commitments require active employee participation and partner support?
  • How does your organization use social media, and how are employees and partners contributing to this?

These questions are a good starting point for assessing where your organization stands and may provide some insight to ways you could better align the company’s brand clues within your organization.

Finding the disconnect

Here are some of the report’s findings, as gleaned from the executive summary.

Nearly 70 percent of marketing and human resource leaders believe their management teams are strongly committed to their company’s image, identify, culture and collective ethos, as well as shared values and employee participation in organizational branding. Yet, just 37 percent say they have a well-defined corporate culture that is universally embraced by the organization.

Brand persona is seen by almost 90 percent as essential, very or moderately important to attracting new hires and building a lasting relationship with customers. Only 62 percent, however, reported having a formal brand platform that defines shared values, ethics and collective buy-in to a singular value proposition.

Leaders first

In order for marketing and human resources to succeed in making the workplace a brand-defining space, a company must first uncover its brand. This is a top-down, CEO-driven initiative with the company’s leadership team as the main brand ambassadors.

The leadership must first embrace the value of the brand and its impact on the company’s future growth, customer loyalty and employee satisfaction, as well as its ability to drive greater profitability and competitive advantage.

From this foundation, a brand that is enculturated into an organization is a game-changing, transformational market advantage.

 

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 25-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™. Kelly is one of 35 certified brand strategists in North America and works with companies to establish brands and build brand value for their businesses.

Crisis communications: Plan for the unexpected

As CEOs, it is our responsibility to manage the unexpected. My industry labels this as crisis communications or reputation management.

Organizations can successfully plan how to respond to worst-case scenarios, and — in doing so — make us CEOs less reactive to situations where personal emotions and immediate response don’t allow us to think as clearly and rationally as we normally might.

I have counseled numerous companies through crisis situations — everything from illegal immigrants and negativity around organized labor contract negotiations to unfavorable actions of key executives to job-related deaths and injuries, including suicides. With the advent of social media and 24/7 news reporting, we’ve all witnessed stories about companies who have done a poor job (or a good job as in the case of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams) of handling communications during a crisis.

Most of us know we are not immune to a crisis, but few of us are prepared should an unexpected event happen.

When minutes turn into seconds

Warren Buffett said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” This couldn’t be more relevant today. With access to social media, those five minutes are more like seconds.

Be prepared and have a plan

A good plan considers all possible crisis situations the company could encounter — anything from a disgruntled employee who uses social media as a platform to air complaints to a tragic occurrence — and everything in between.

Establish a company policy to guide employees on what to do should any of the potential situations arise. With easy access to a checklist or plan of action, employees can react and respond quickly.

Consider a company code of ethics as an additional guide in the event an employee should have to step in due to unforeseen circumstances.

A company’s first response is to attend to the safety and health of any employee, or any persons involved. Your plan and checklist should identify emergency response issues such as injury, death and how and when to contact family members.

A company’s second response is to dig into the cause of the problem or situation. Get the facts. This should be done with the company’s leadership and its legal and communications counsel.

A third response is to develop a communications strategy and to provide a statement to its public audiences — employees, customers, vendors, the media and whoever else needs to be informed.

Depending on the situation, this may all need to come together in a matter of a few hours — sometimes less. Having a plan will help you get the job done. It will also help if you maintain an updated company fact sheet and have good media relationships already in place.

In all cases, a company should determine at least two senior company representatives and arm them with facts about the situation and comments of how the company is responding to the situation. This doesn’t mean that they have to have all the answers, but it does mean they are available, responsive and working openly and honestly with everyone.

It is important to approach a crisis situation with genuine concern and the facts. Remember: The world is watching.

 

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 25-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™. Kelly is one of 35 certified brand strategists in North America and works with companies to establish brands and build brand value for their businesses.