Rob Tomkinson

Rob Tomkinson

robtomkinson

Rob Tomkinson is founder of Carrington Communications, the digital PR agency based in Lincolnshire. He helps companies reach their customers and grow their business through effective PR and marketing. He writes about digital PR strategy, reputation management and other interesting marketing stories that catch his eye.


If Sunday’s Lincoln Grand Prix had been just one lap shorter, a young rider named Tom Moses would have taken victory with a lead of more than 30 seconds. Reality though, was to prove somewhat different.

As he reached the start of the Michaelgate climb for the last time, he was just nine seconds ahead, and by the time he crossed the line up by the Cathedral he’d dropped back to fourth place, 35 seconds behind winner Yanto Barker.

Now, to take nothing away from the fantastic achievement of a top-five finish on one of the cycling calendar’s toughest circuits, the story of his final lap is a cautionary tale for businesses about the dangers of not having a ‘Plan B’ in place for when the good times go bad.

If the good times are rolling in business, preparing for the worst might be the last thing on your mind. Spending time and money planning for circumstances you’d do anything to avoid and that, with any luck, will never materialise, can quickly fall down the to-do list when day-to-day priorities take hold.

However, should that worst case scenario come to pass, the quality of a business’ crisis communications, or lack of, can make or break its reputation in hours. When the proverbial hits the fan for whatever reason, and you reach for the crisis plan, you’ll thank yourself for having the foresight to get it ready well in advance.

Be prepared

Effective crisis planning comes into its own during times of high stress and pressure, precisely because it was put together in the complete opposite of circumstances – in a calm, considered manner when time is a luxury you do have.

Say something

Keeping the media and your customers informed is by far the most important thing you can do should a crisis hit. Pre-prepared press statements covering a variety of possible scenarios can give you vital time to catch up when events are fast-moving.

‘No comment’ not an option

Having a nominated spokesperson ready, fully briefed and trained in effective media communications allows your business to respond positively to whatever situation may arise – because in a crisis, ‘no comment’ is simply no longer an option.

Keep the ball rolling

Setting a series of regular press updates and sticking to those times is vital, even when there is no new information to give. Doing this, and giving out as much information as you are able to legally, being transparent and honest in all press statements will help to keep public opinion on your side.

Revisit your plans regularly

Preparing for these circumstances in advance and keeping your plans updated regularly will give you the clarity you need to remember these important actions when you need them the most.

Crisis communications isn’t about trying to prevent bad things from happening. How your business responds during a crisis will tell your customers more about you than almost anything else, for better or worse. Understand that and you’ll see why good crisis comms really is money well spent.

So if you do just one thing on the back of this article, ask yourself the question: What’s the worst that could happen?

Rob Tomkinson is founder of Carrington Communications, the digital PR agency based in Lincolnshire. He helps companies reach their customers and grow their business through effective PR and marketing. He writes about digital PR strategy, reputation management and other interesting marketing stories that catch his eye.

The art of storytelling is part of human nature. Whether it’s through prehistoric cave drawings, fireside folk songs or 140 Twitter characters — how we do it might have changed a bit over the years but that desire to tell the world our story is as strong now as it ever was.

The big challenge for businesses in the digital age is how to make their story stand out, with so many different ones being told in so many different places. Most of us see hundreds if not thousands of marketing messages every day – on the bus, on TV and on our smartphones.

Book sales might be falling but storytelling through advertising and news stories is as important as ever. Developing your ability to do it well is vital. Here are five quick tips to bear in mind:

Know your audience

Who are you trying to talk to? If your answer to that question is ‘everyone’ then you need to think again. Socially, we are less homogenous now than ever – our relationships with the brands and businesses we buy from are complex and differ from person to person.

Identify your audience and research what they enjoy reading already. Then, if needs be, adapt your own writing style to suit.

Get to the point

Be clear in your own mind about the purpose of your writing and make sure it’s clear to the people reading it. Work out the important points you want to say before you start and include them early on – don’t make readers have to work for it.

The genuine article

No one likes a tall tale so make sure everything you write is authentic. You should believe in what you’re writing in the same way that a salesperson should believe in the product or service they’re selling

No-nonsense

Keep it simple and write in the same way you would talk. A good way to check you’re doing this is to read what you’ve written out loud to someone else and ask them whether it makes sense. It sounds obvious but don’t overlook it.

Be yourself

Like any good spoken story, a written one engages and entertains through the way it’s told. Bring your business’s personality into your writing. Ask yourself: ‘Would I want to read this?’ Make sure the answer is yes before you expect someone else to.

I’m always interested to hear new stories. You can get in touch with me on Twitter @robtomkinson or via email [email protected]

Rob Tomkinson is founder of Carrington Communications, the digital PR agency based in Lincolnshire. He helps companies reach their customers and grow their business through effective PR and marketing. He writes about digital PR strategy, reputation management and other interesting marketing stories that catch his eye.