How to Lead in Times of Crisis

Sandra Coyle (Currently In Africa)- Founder of Coyle Communications, 30 Years of experience in Global Comms – Profit and Non Profit

Updated with transcript: 03/04/2022

  • We discuss: – How to choose a leader and a crisis team who is able and prepared to lead?
  • How to provide a vision, hope and a plan while being truthful on the harsh realities(FDR- Roosevelt)?
  • How to throw out your well prepared crisis plan and address the evolving crisis.

Here is the full transcript from the interview above.

Nathaniel Schooler

00:00:01

Welcome to influential visions. Here we interview futuristic leaders who share their deep industry knowledge and business experience with you, ensuring you have your finger on the pulse and your eyes wide open. My name is Nathaniel schooler, and I am your host. So today I am actually interviewing Sandra Coyle. Sandra Coyle is in the, at the moment based actually in Africa, you are you’re over there, aren’t you and you are the founder of coil communications, and you’ve got 30 years experience in global coms with profit and nonprofits. Right? So welcome.

Sandra Coyle

00:00:48

Thank you so much. Good to see you Nat. I’m, I’m very happy to be here today. Looking forward to sharing some of my knowledge with your audiences who I’m sure are being impacted by our new world, that we’re suddenly. So looking forward to the conversation

Nathaniel Schooler

00:01:04

Super me too. I learned a lot from our last interview about a year ago. And you know, today we’re gonna talk about how to lead in times of crisis, and we’re gonna cover three points, how to choose a leader and a crisis team who’s able and prepared to lead is the first one. So how, how do we, how do we do that?

Sandra Coyle

00:01:28

Well, it’s interesting cuz I often see just watching leaders around the world, including heads of state, but also corporate leaders manage this current crisis. And when I look at it, I think back to my similar type of crisis, not as, as extreme as what we’re in now from 2011 with a hacker campaign against the organization, I was working for. What we actually did is we did not choose our CEO to be the, the spokesperson or the leader of the crisis team itself. We looked for somebody who had that calm authority, that one needs in these times of crisis, who was a director level. And she was put in charge of chairing a global client crisis response within 24 hours choosing a, a what we say a small team, but it might have actually at the time been too large five people who were in charge of the most important areas of the organization, the CFO, the CIO communications, myself, et cetera.

Sandra Coyle

00:02:37

So I would encourage folks to really look at their teams, their leadership and say, okay, is there someone here who’s a always come or always good in a crisis that would make a great spokesperson for us. It does not have to be your lead person. And oftentimes it removes any potential brand damage from that individual or the organization, cuz they’re trying to run the company at the same time or run the government at the same time. There could be a secondary who can be there, be communicating as much as possible and be the face of the organization while that leader handles the minute by minute crises that are incurring inside and outside.

Nathaniel Schooler

00:03:16

Right. Right. So with this, with this security breach, yeah. How did you, what did you, what did you actually do? What was the, what was the process that you followed?

Sandra Coyle

00:03:28

That’s a great question. It was a while ago was the anonymous hacking team back in 2011. If everyone remembers Sony had been attacked and the way they were doing it was through YouTube videos announcing that they would go after your company. Wow. But usually by the time you saw the YouTube video, it was already happening. They’d already gotten behind your wall. So to speak. Yeah. Usually through friending on LinkedIn to see who all the directors were at your company. So one morning being in charge of communication for the America’s region. I came in, I looked at our news alert from Google and luckily I had chosen videos as well. And there it was and I played it and we were in an open plan setting with over a hundred people. And there was anonymous saying they were coming after my organization. Wow.

Sandra Coyle

00:04:20

And you know, we’re, we’re all taught to be con in crisis. I remember I stood up and I looked at the wall in front of me and I said, okay, deep breath. Let’s go get the director. And I talked to him and two directors within about 30 minutes to an hour, we had formed the beginnings of a crisis team and we alerted all the I C T directors around the world. So it was a major global company in 140 countries. So we had wow headquarters in Geneva, but we had offices in Singapore, south America, UK, quite a big office in the UK and the Netherlands. So at that time we decided because of our very dispersed offices, we actually contacted law enforcement in each of those countries, including in. So I think within that afternoon, we were sitting down with the FBI in Washington talking about what was happening.

Sandra Coyle

00:05:25

So they actually looked at our logs and helped us through it, all the authorities. But in the meantime, we had all these schools around the world and parents and children whose records were about to be exposed. So like any good organization, we had a crisis access communications plan. We drilled, we love the drills. We drilled twice a year, many years, we thought we were all set, but what we had to do immediately, we looked at it and we threw it out because it was a completely new situation. Right. And we had to be prepared for all of our cyber to be taken over in our social, to be taken over in our website to be taken over. Wow. Cause they had gotten in, we were mostly shot because it is an organization that was helping, we thought with a mission driven and to our knowledge and to the authorities knowledge, we were the first nonprofit that was targeted.

Nathaniel Schooler

00:06:28

Right.

Sandra Coyle

00:06:29

It was supposed to before Sony was about four weeks before us. Right? So we very quickly just put together a crisis plan in a crisis team of five that operated 48 hours had all authority to spend whatever is needed and to hire whoever is needed during that time period, prevent the attack. And we actually did that and we managed to stop an attack that started halfway through. So we were lucky. It didn’t go go to the extremes we thought, but it made you sink outside of a box into a world you’d never experienced before, which is what we have now. So having a leader who was dedicated to it was not the CEO and that we had the directors who were able to make decisions. The only thing, and one of the, the recommendations I have is watch and monitor the behavior of your team because human nature is to form groups.

Sandra Coyle

00:07:32

You know, two people, maybe three people. And we were working across time zones. So even though we had a chair and an authority, we might wake up in Washington the next day. And then the folks in Singapore had made decisions that went against the group’s decisions. So it’s still difficult to manage. So I really recommend don’t go beyond five. I’d really recommend four, if you can keep it small, cuz you have to stay unified. So there’s always that, that was that push and pull of different factions within that group. And you have to ensure everyone stay stays unified behind a plan. Yeah. Takes their activities seriously and actually executes them quickly and will always follow the designated leader

Nathaniel Schooler

00:08:20

Course. So with, when, when you’re talking about a unified plan, you’re talking about the communications, you’re not talking about fixing a, a, a cyber security breach. Are you’re, you’re talking about coms. Yeah.

Sandra Coyle

00:08:33

It’s actually all of it.

Nathaniel Schooler

00:08:35

Right. So that’s what I thought

Sandra Coyle

00:08:37

As the comms plan, you have the cyber plan as well. The IT division working with the authorities. You have also the legal team.

Nathaniel Schooler

00:08:46

Yes. Of course.

Sandra Coyle

00:08:47

Team on there as well. Yeah. And we had the chair if I remember. Right. So comms of course was the main focus in the beginning to inform staff immediately. And our keep our stakeholders informed as we went yeah. While doing the one thing that is needed during a time of crisis is reassuring. So having the vision and plan for the future, but also giving the reality of what potentially could happen. Yeah. And we need to do that with all the heads of schools around the world. Right. And multiple languages very quickly. So they understood that a, we were on top of it, we understood the ramifications, but we were taking action. Our hope was this would be the end result, but this is what could happen, but don’t worry. We are here and you can communicate with us anytime we will keep communicating with you throughout this.

Sandra Coyle

00:09:43

So it’s OK. Not to have an answer. I think what we see now is that people want reassurance. So you can give the vision and plan for the future. But at the same time being to truthful about what potentially can happen is happening telling the truth. But reassuring is really an important aspect of crisis communications. And I think a lot back being American to president Roosevelt during the thirties or 32nd president, gosh, think about a hard 10 years as, so that he had, he had four terms and he came in as in a tough situation during the depression and after the crash. But he was able to do that so well to give a vision continually and a plan continually having fireside chats that my dad who’s 89 still remembers fondly as that person who could just tell us what was happening, but also reassure us and bring us together. Right. You know, you saw that today in the UK with the clapping that started with the, the Royal

Nathaniel Schooler

01:10:49

Chess last night. Yeah.

Sandra Coyle

01:10:51

And, and that was really fantastic bringing people together. So difficulties and realities, I think they have to be faced. And I think people want to hear that, but also to bring us forward into a vision and a plan. And he would always say, look, we have to try things. We have to make mistakes, but we have to innovate forward. And that’s what he did with his plan, but also during the war years and throughout. So I think talking to friends and colleagues around the world, I think part of that has been missing, right. That reality of the situation, mostly because many leaders don’t know what’s happening, but how we can possibly what the new future is. And maybe that’s a positive future. Maybe there’s some changes here that we’re all taking on board, working from home, talking virtually with people we haven’t connected with for a while. It’s bringing communities together in a certain way. So we can look at some of the positives that might come out of such hard times, right. Itself,

Nathaniel Schooler

01:11:56

That fits in beautifully with my next question. Yeah. So how to provide a vision hope and a plan while being truthful on the harsh realities, you kind of covered a little bit about that. I mean, you know, what’s quite amazing is, what you were saying certainly about the UK. I mean, we’ve, we’ve started to embrace more, more technologies. We’ve started purchasing technologies from, I believe the US from Silicon valley, which will monitor the, the beds in the hospitals so that when they are empty, we know exactly what’s empty. You know, we’ve started doing obviously zoom calls with, with, or whatever video calls with patients. I think a lot more data analysis is gonna, is gonna result with this. So, you know, that’s obviously part of the vision it’s and the hope is a difficult one.

Sandra Coyle

01:12:53

Hope is difficult, but it has to be there. It’s critical that you and it’s okay to say maybe I don’t know. It’s always okay to say, I don’t know, like the rest of you, I don’t know this is a new world, but this is my hope as the leader of this country, the leader of this organization, leader of a civic organization as well. So it’s looking at who you are, the basis of the brand, the country brand, or the company brand and how you can change and develop from this point in time, given what’s happening. I’ll just take an example from now I’m in Africa, like you said, I’ve been working with Africa and organizations in the past four years, and this was really new working from home and using zoom and teams across the continent, working with colleagues in Zimbabwe and South Africa and elsewhere here, you know, it took a while for us to grab this new technology, cuz things were a bit are conservative, right.

Sandra Coyle

01:13:57

But if any place now is a new way for technology. So the young people on this continent really are well positioned to take, to take this forward and become a new way of working that I think maybe all of us had talked about and maybe we would use WhatsApp with our friends and family and video. I know in the states FaceTime, but now it’s a, it’s a new way of communicating and I’m finding that personally myself. And I’m not sure, I’m sure with your audience, it’s the same thing. I am reconnecting with people I haven’t seen and talked to in 10 or 20 years all around the world since Monday. So I think technology really has shown its power in communications right. And helping brands. So I think this may permanently change the way we’ve been using it.

Nathaniel Schooler

01:14:48

Yeah. I mean, I’ve been thinking, we talked a little bit before we got onto this call about what I think will come from this. I think that a lot of people will learn new skills. People who are very worried that their jobs are going. I think that there will be a lot of good, good things coming from this. People are learning new skills, they’re learning new hobbies. They are thinking about their careers, perhaps changing their businesses very quickly. You know, unfortunately though there are a lot of people who are paralyzed, who can’t actually do anything. And that’s what I’m trying to instill is a bit of hope to those people, which, you know, throughout all of the episodes that I do, I try to add as much you from speaking with people like yourself and, you know, bringing, bringing that positivity to others is kind of, it’s absolutely crucial to all communications, right?

Nathaniel Schooler

01:15:43

If you write a book, you want that to have some sort of hope. I mean, without the hope in a book, you get what a, a chapter in and you’re like, what is this like, like, why am I reading this book? Like, what’s, what’s the point of this book. Yeah. And I got taught how to write, write the outline of a book by a New York Times, six times bestselling author, Brian Eisenberg. Absolutely wonderful chap, a really great guy based, based in Austin from New York he’s but he’s, he’s lovely. And, and he taught me about that and having the hope I is, is one of those things that, I mean, obviously you gotta have the valuable, nuts and bolts yeah. In a book. Right. If you’re writing a business book. Yeah. But having that hope is just, is just, it’s so important. Yeah. Otherwise it’s like, well, why what’s the point of me listening to I, if you’re not gonna deliver something that is gonna make me aspire to a new thing or a new way of feeling, then why am I, why am I investing time in reading or watching this, you know?

Sandra Coyle

01:16:49

Absolutely. And I, I think it goes back to the fear. You don’t let fear overtake you. We’ve all been on this earth for a while. We’ve all had peaks and valleys. I’ve had quite a few been here a few days, decades. Look back to that and say, you know, in those times when you were just so worried and running things over and over in your mind and talking to your friends and family and thinking, gosh, I’m not gonna make it. How am I gonna make it in six months a year? Well, look back, boy, I’m sure you made it. And I’m sure you exceeded what you thought you could do. So always hold hope in your heart. Look at yourself, look at what you’ve done. Even if you’re, you know, 15 or 20, you’ve probably gone through something. Look back at the, that you’re going to be okay.

Sandra Coyle

01:17:37

Always believe in yourself. You can change things around. So don’t, we all have peaks and valleys. And I, I wrote a message to my niece. Who’s in the film industry and they closed down in New York and she was, her career is going well. And I wrote her a, a note this morning saying, you’re going to go very far. It’s just, that sometimes the external world will throw things at you and overwhelm you, but try not to be overwhelmed, try to manage the messages that are coming toward you. Maybe don’t read the news as much. Yeah. I mentioned when we were talking that there’s this wonderful woman in Paris, who’s a French teacher and she’s doing live Instagram in the evenings at the same time. And she’s reading French literature and poetry, which is helping us all and bringing us all together in the comments. I’m loving it to me. It is that fireside chat. She’s giving us hope. And she’s talking about the beauty of words and literature and how much that means to her. But also it gives us hope in what she’s reading. Right. So I always have hope have that belief in your heart, things will change. They always change.

Nathaniel Schooler

01:18:48

Right? So that hope can be obviously multidimensional. So it can be, you know, we hope we are gonna help our clients to come out of this business problem. We hope we’re gonna help humanity. We hope we’re gonna help. You know, there can be multi multidimensions right to that. Yeah,

Sandra Coyle

01:19:06

Absolutely. And with companies, hopefully, that your audience has looked at scenario analysis where you try to predict the future. There’s some great futurists in the UK and elsewhere who write about this and try to predict the future. But this is a time to definitely manage this crisis now. But look, six months, a year, two years, five years down the road, this is going to teach such valuable lessons, right? Yeah. In every way, the, key is don’t forget this. After it happened, apply those lessons. Always go back to those lessons. I think it’s human nature just to put it behind us. Yeah. But see what you learned as a company from this, how can you improve your operations? Right? How can you improve your communications with your stakeholders, your brand positioning, etcetera. Yeah. So, or new markets that may have come available given the crisis. So always look towards the future, be mindful of now, but learn the lessons and don’t forget those lessons. I think that’s key as well.

Nathaniel Schooler

02:20:14

Yeah. Yeah. So onto, onto the next, the next question, how to throw out your well prepared crisis plan and address the evolving crisis at hand. I mean, I know you’ve talked a little bit about that, but can you sort of expand a little bit on that please?

Sandra Coyle

02:20:32

Sure. I think with my ex before you may, and I think it it’s happened to quite a few people who are listening today in watching that you did look at it and you thought, well, this is not going to apply. And we have to work very, very, fast and use our wits and our instinct as a team. So I literally took it and threw it in the waste basket at the time and wanted to the director’s office and draft it up a one page plan, given what we knew about hackers and what was potentially going to happen. Was it tested? No, was it a hundred percent accurate? No. Was it right for our brand as much as we can make it. So don’t be afraid to do that because I think as communications professionals, we get very, you know, wrapped up in our, our planning, right?

Sandra Coyle

02:21:23

Yeah. We have strategic plan. We have, which matches to the company, use strategic plan and KPIs. And we have that crisis plan that we’ve worked with either internally or with agencies and we drilled. And that’s the Bible. Yeah. Well, no, oftentimes, you know, crises hit you when you least expect it from where you’re not expecting it and it’s not how you expected it. So the known knowns, the known unknowns, I forget, I learned that in, in graduate school, but it will hit you. You need to be able, to work on your feet and not be so obsessed with that plan. So I think flexibility is needed. Yeah. You need your confidence as a communicator to voice that, to your leadership and also the legal team, which may be involved at the same time and to stand your ground and state your case as to why we need to go in a new direction.

Nathaniel Schooler

02:22:18

Yeah.

Sandra Coyle

02:22:19

So I don’t be afraid to do that. I have to say I’ve handled quite a few crises in my career. Seldom did we actually use the written plan?

Nathaniel Schooler

02:22:28

Right. But it, but it’s good. It’s good to have that framework. Isn’t it in the first place, cuz it gives you a starting point, right?

Sandra Coyle

02:22:35

Absolutely. And if you drill it’s in people’s minds that this is a possibility. Yeah. But when you drill, you need to tell your leaders, it may not fall into these categories categories. It could be something totally separate or different for what we’re used to handling and something we don’t expect. So that element of surprise, doesn’t put them into a state of shock where they can’t respond. Right. For a while, they’re still trying to process what’s happening. You do want to reduce that amount of time. They will be an element of shock. I had it during that packing crisis by I didn’t let it go very long. I took action as fast as I could and moved forward was I scared? You bet. Absolutely. Everyone was working in a team. We were able to rely on each other, counter our ideas, test our ideas together to ensure that what we were doing is right for the brand itself.

Nathaniel Schooler

02:23:30

Yeah. And then it has to fit into the brand’s general style of communication in the, in the, in the interim. Yeah.

Sandra Coyle

02:23:39

Yes. And that can get, that’s a great point because I think going back to choose your leader is very important cuz you need that calm, stable individual. I did have a CEO once who wanted to go out with a press release that was just not appropriate after an alleged allegation that came up. So you really have to make sure that you have that stable individual who will stay with the style of communication and not get it so emotional that they’re just attacking across the board and using aggressive, attacking language. You don’t want to do that. You have to be seen as being calm, stable, thoughtful with your vision and your plan and able to, to communicate that while talking about the realities. Yeah. I think a lot of people, you know, when you’re afraid and you’re in crisis, you just, you wanna go, but you have to be a bit more mindful in that and have a leader who is also mindful that you can work with it’s bad and is hard for a communications professional. When you don’t have that around you, they spend a lot of energy trying to defend a certain way of going forward.

Nathaniel Schooler

02:24:52

Yeah. It’s not, it’s not an easy time for, for anyone. I mean, when you’ve got that problem, that’s, that’s occurred. If, if you don’t behave in the right way, then obviously you’re not, you’re not supposed to be leading that particular conversation. Yeah. You know, but you need, you need to be running the business. I mean, that’s what, that’s what a CEO does. So, you know, just because you’re CEO doesn’t mean you need to, to run the crisis communications, you could potentially introduce it if you were brief, properly. Right.

Sandra Coyle

02:25:26

Would our director general had done, he appointed a chairperson to run the team who was a director who was so calm, very experienced. Had she ever run a crisis team? No, but she was a grace spokesperson. She could dedicate 24, 7 for 24 for two days. We, we made an end date to that crisis team of 48 hours. Right. Cause that’s how long we thought the crisis should last your crisis team shouldn’t last forever. Cause you are taking them out of the operations of the organization itself. Right. War rooms as they’re known in government as well. Yeah. So, and if you do have someone who maybe you thought was calm, but the longer the crisis goes, maybe they’re not as calm and you’re having difficulties with the communication that can cause further reputational damage down the line. Right. Right. That’s what you don’t want. You don’t wanna add more damage to a crisis. So you have to be, it’s a hard situation cause it’s moving fast. So you need to ensure that you are looking at, like you said, ensuring it’s the same style of communication coming from that brand.

Nathaniel Schooler

02:26:37

Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s very difficult for a lot of people. I mean, I, I know a lot of companies that have been put on high alert, you know, I mean big, big technology vendors, security companies and, and, and they’ve been stopped and, and just said, you know, you can’t, you can’t actually get involved with this. You need to step back a little bit. And just, we carry on with business day to day and we’re gonna just reform and we’re gonna make a play and then we’re gonna go forwards. Yeah. So it’s a, it’s a very difficult time when you are actually in this crisis. I mean, we are in, we are in a global crisis. Right. But like as far as like security hacking. Yeah. I mean, you know how so to start with, you would put out a very quick press release. Wouldn’t you that just say we’ve had a problem. We’re notifying all of the people affected. We are taking this seriously and then what

Sandra Coyle

02:27:32

You do. But I think companies need to remember first, you need to let your people know. Right. Because it may not be a known thing among internally Cause they’re going to communicate and they also may be called by journalists. Right.

Nathaniel Schooler

02:27:47

And,

Sandra Coyle

02:27:48

Or contacted through their social media. Cause they’ll start doing a LinkedIn search to see who’s working at that company. I need a call. Right? Yep. You need to kinda close the wagons and make sure everyone is aware internally and ask them to please run any request through that comms team who is the designated spokesperson. Who’s managing that situation for the spokesperson. Yep. So that’s immediate from there you work on a statement usually and what is important for communications professionals. They may have really good relationships with key journalists that they can place the statement with. Of course,

Sandra Coyle

02:28:25

Hopefully in the right publications for where their, their focus is. Yep. So they can lead out with it and then they can also push that out more broadly. Some brands may not wanna do that right away. They may want to just work with the journalists. They know to get the message out for them and keep back a little bit and try to manage the dissemination, going depending on what the situation is. And then from there, of course your customers and that would get to customers, but whatever channel you’re using for customers, they need to know before it gets public as well. So right. Customer statement goes out, you can do it in a controlled manner. You can do a broad manner. If you do it broad, it’s gonna be more difficult to control.

Nathaniel Schooler

02:29:10

Right? What do you mean by broad unfocused?

Sandra Coyle

02:29:14

Like you said, putting out a release right away. Right. What we did is we actually notified the journalists we worked with and we made sure we already had those relationships built right over time for just the at purpose. And that was one aspect of the crisis plan. We kept, you always need to ensure that you have those relationships where you can just call them and it might be midnight. I always say it’s 5:00 PM on a Friday when these things happen, right?

Nathaniel Schooler

02:29:40

Oh yeah.

Sandra Coyle

02:29:41

You can call them and say, I know you’re with your family. You’re about to go to dinner, but we’ve got a problem here. I have a statement. Can you please release it? Yeah. And they will, if you have that relationship with a journalist.

Nathaniel Schooler

02:29:51

Yeah. As long as you write that statement first, right?

Sandra Coyle

02:29:55

Absolutely. And that’s pretty quick. Usually in my experience, it may be different from other people. Usually the communications individual will write that pretty quickly and give that to leadership. You have a sit down with them, you wordsmith it together. You’ve gotta be quick with it first. However, is the staff, the customers and the outside statement and they build on each other. So for the staff, you, you may want to tell them different things, right? More detailed information about exactly what happened. Who’s in charge internally, where do they go for information? How do they handle talking to their families and others about it? So that would be specific customers. You really need to reassure them that you’re on top of it. Yeah.

Sandra Coyle

03:30:40

You use the steps. We’re taking outside statement, reassuring that the organization is aware. These are the steps we’re taking and we’ll follow up in a certain amount of time. Right? You better follow up. So some people will do a press conference depending on the crisis itself. You’ve definitely seen the leaders who have had to deal with this very difficult situation, doing that on a continual basis. So you may want to follow up on that with a statement with a press conference that’s warranted depending on what the crisis is. Be careful though, because if it is about contact or an individual, you don’t wanna have that you might want to manage that press conference differently and put someone up front. So you have to look at the elements of the crisis and think of how you want to handle it and keep it managed as best you can, crises or crises. Oftentimes they can be very well managed, but try to do the best you can to prevent future brand damage down the line that you’re trying to fix for a long,

Nathaniel Schooler

03:31:41

Well, that’s exactly what I was talking about the other day. You know, about how, how, if you don’t, if you don’t know how to communicate, you need to stop and, and, and actually take a step back and, and, and make a plan, you know, of like what what’s acceptable to, to talk about. How can you encourage people to, to get some, have some hope in their lives? Because you know, right now, yes, we’re talking about this virus. That’s, that’s that’s throughout the world, but there it’s very, very related to a normal crisis that happens within a, within a business and within a community, right?

Sandra Coyle

03:32:19

It is, it is all there’s elements of crisis that you’ll see across the board. So one of the aspects I would encourage communications professionals to look at is definitely social media. You have your social champions, right? So have them carry that hope for you and enlist them in helping you as a brand itself. They’re supporters. You, you do need to know who your champions out there. Most of them do. They’re such great data analytics platforms nowadays that we didn’t have 10 years ago that enable communications professionals to know who their champions are, who are the influencers, who a line with their brand to help take that message across. And it’s it’s if you look at just what happened, I think earlier this week in the states where I think it was the attorney general asked Kylie Jenner to put up a post and encourage young people to take the virus seriously. So he knew who was out there with all the followers and who had that market. Yeah. And actually asked her to do that. And she did. And they did take it seriously. You started to see some behavior change itself. Yeah. So her brother’s the same thing. No, those individuals, not just the journalists, but who those champions and influences are to help you carry the message more broadly. Right. If you need to do that as

Nathaniel Schooler

03:33:42

Well. Yeah. That’s very important. I’m actually doing a bit of research into that at the moment. And looking at, looking at people and actually who they influence, what demographics they influence, which one you know, so it’s like, you can look at a brand and then you can look at who influences that market. You can look at keywords who influences things within those keywords. And, you know, I’m using one of the best tools out there at the moment. And it’s, you know, I love it. It’s amazing. I’m not gonna say what it is, but like, you know, if anyone needs any help with that happy to help. But like, you know, if, if you need any help with that, with your, with your coil communications business, we can, we can talk about it. Right.

Sandra Coyle

03:34:25

Absolutely. I would love it. Of course you. Yes, absolutely. And you know, there’s so much power in there, the ease of information that your fingertips with these platforms and databases. Gosh, you know, I wish that I had that back in the two thousands when we were facing a lot of these, they were just coming up then. Yeah. But now does so much work for you. It makes it very easy and very quick, which is what you need in a crisis to have that information. So technology’s been great. Right. It’s helped us actually get the analytics and the data we need to make inform smart division decisions to a formula that vision and plan down

Nathaniel Schooler

03:35:04

Road. Yeah. Very much so. And also it means that you can actually extract that audience and then advertise in front of it. So you know, that the demographics are right and everything, and that, you know, that’s quite important to really target the right people. I mean, you know, mainly we do business to business influence and marketing. So we, that, you know, we kind of get that. Right. But like you are basically talking about creating some content that, that needs sharing very quickly. Yeah. So, you know what I think around that myself is probably quite similar to, to your opinion. It needs to be really, really on point needs to have a good image and needs to have a link to a further, a further piece of content. That’s, that’s written by a, a good source because this is another problem it’s misinformation.

Sandra Coyle

03:35:50

Absolutely. And, and that’s an excellent point, I think, just to go back to your first initial point terms of the analytics and the audiences, that’s where be prepared, comes in. And most communications people have their list of influencers yeah. And champions and journalists. And they need to be able to move on that very quickly each day, as a communications professional, you’re checking that information every morning. So that’s when that can be activated very, very, very quickly. But I think in terms of information, you’re absolutely correct. It has to come from what I call the, the brand voice itself, whoever that known spokesperson is. But if there’s also potentially a, a journalist or somebody else in a profession who has a lot of credibility, they can place an op-ed on your behalf. They can go on television, they can do podcasts or anything like that. Talking about the value of your brand and the value of the actions you’ve taken. Well, also being critical. They need to, right. You have made mistakes, but you can have a collaboration. So they help you get your message out. And it doesn’t need to be, it could be more than one doing that.

Nathaniel Schooler

03:37:08

So you, you, you are talking about an industry voice, aren’t you an independent industry voice. So for example, if you’ve got a problem that’s within the environmental sphere, then you’ll go to basically know who the most influential people are by running your analytics on social media. And then you get to analyze who, who they’re talking to and then how you can influence all the conversations. And then you’re gonna basically share a piece of content with them. And then they radiate it out much like what we do with social media as a business.

Sandra Coyle

03:37:39

Absolutely. But again, be prepared. You need to develop relationships with these people beforehand, because ask in the last minute, they’re not going to trust, you know, where they do that. Yeah. So you have to build that relationship at top levels. So your CEO needs to get to know these people or your board share, or may even know them from working together in the same history, but you need to be able to have that, Hey, can I WhatsApp you conversation? They can work with you depending on the individual. They may want to write it or go through talking points with you, but you need to give them freedom cuz you don’t want them. Exactly. Just repeating the brand voice. People are smart. They’re going to notice if it’s a brand voice, you know, you want something to actually go out there and that’s hard for leadership to do sometimes because you’re letting you go of control.

Nathaniel Schooler

03:38:32

Well, they worry dunno. They, they worry that there’s gonna be some sort of miscommunication or, or not in their business’ style. But it’s like, look, you know, you’ve got independent in industry analysts and industry specialists and experts. Yeah. They know how to communicate with the audience, probably in many cases better than your business does or your organization, if I’m brutally honest and you need to kind of, I think actually let, let, let, let them just get on with it because you’ve gotta remember the most important thing is they have a reputation themselves. So they are not going to put out the wrong information in the wrong tone because they don’t wanna hurt their own relationships. And actually if they do you get something wrong, they can turn around and say, well, actually I made a mistake. This is the real information. And then that actually helps to improve what you are doing as well, which I find very interesting.

Sandra Coyle

03:39:27

It is. And, and really good brands have that spokesperson. And I would encourage professionals, communications, professionals, and, and leadership to look at this model more. I think there’s a lot of focus on the, the brand spokesperson, but corporations tend to use others, right? And I would encourage particularly nonprofits or international organizations to really develop your bench. As we say, as American in term, make sure you have your spokes people across industries, across your stakeholder markets, to be able to communicate about your brand from their point of view, it will help you in these situations. Always good to you to have more spokespersons available and trained who can take opportunities that come up, broadcast, radio podcasts, et cetera, and print. So really don’t leave that at the last of the list. It often brings that up front because in times like these it’s gonna be invaluable to do that. So strongly encourage looking at who, who would be willing to who believes in your brand big one, you want someone who really believes in your brand and the work that you’re doing and the impact that you’re making. Because again, that will be picked up if the, if they’re not really as connected to you or as believing of the brand.

Nathaniel Schooler

04:40:51

Yeah. I mean, it goes, it goes back to, you know, are you, are you being authentic? I mean, that’s, you know, everyone, everyone, few years ago, everyone was like, you, you’ve got to, you’ve got to build your personal brand and you must be authentic. And it’s just like, well, isn’t that, isn’t that obvious that if you are communicating something in the wrong way, and it’s not actually true to who you are, that people are just gonna look at you, they’re gonna know your fake. I mean, come on.

Sandra Coyle

04:41:16

I think now with what’s one I feel about now is people have the communications power. It shifted from the mid to late two thousands, right before brands had the power. So now, and people are very vocal. So they’ll tell you when you’re you’re that disconnect, everybody will pick up, but it’s amazing to this day, a lot of leaders don’t understand that there’s still a belief that I can sell this. Right? No, there has to be truth, truth. So back to what we talked about earlier, truth about reality of what’s happening a vision whole, but people are smart. People control communications. Now they have a voice and brands need to respect that

Nathaniel Schooler

04:42:05

Very much. So.

Sandra Coyle

04:42:06

Yeah.

Nathaniel Schooler

04:42:07

Well thank you. It’s been absolutely brilliant. I think that’s the perfect time to end. You just summed it all up. Really? Is there anything you’d like to you you’d like to sort of add,

Sandra Coyle

04:42:16

Well, I just want to add, I, I think my hope is that this advice will help people. If they want to reach out to me, they can, but also to give all the leaders of companies, governments everywhere from small towns on up really just kudos for hanging in there. It is a ton. I know we’ve all been critical, but being in those shoes during a crisis is, is difficult for anybody. And I just applaud them for their hard work over the past months. Really?

Nathaniel Schooler

04:42:47

Yeah. Very much so. And let’s hope we get through this quickly, but not too quick so that everyone has made you of problems. Yeah. Because you know, if we can, if we can slow it down, we’re gonna have a safer ride through, right. I mean, that’s, that’s kind of what we’re looking at, isn’t it?

Sandra Coyle

04:43:06

Absolutely. And I just wanna wish everyone, a lot of strength and courage and keep hope and look forward to the future while still dealing with the now, but do manage the, the communications coming to you news and elsewhere and enjoy the community that’s happening and the connections that are happening around the world and get strength from that.

Nathaniel Schooler

04:43:27

Yeah. Yeah. And keep listening cuz that’s, that’s what it’s all based upon. Isn’t it

Sandra Coyle

04:43:31

Listen to the influential visions podcast

Nathaniel Schooler

04:43:35

Can. Don’t worry. I’m trying people. People know that. I think that’s great.

Sandra Coyle

04:43:41

Well, thank you so much. It’s been so much fun. Really great to be back.

Nathaniel Schooler

04:43:45

Thank you. Thanks for listening. Please make sure you share this episode with your friends and business connections too. And don’t forget to draw us a review wherever you list