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Getting the Gear

Time After Time

The Apple Watch is Apple’s entry into the wearable technology market and is its first new product ‘category’ since the death of Steve Jobs in 2011. The Apple Watch is advertised as a device that improves fitness routines and makes connecting to work and social networks easy and efficient.

Pros: Users say they love the sleek and sporty design, the easy-to-use operating system and interface.
Cons: A steep price tag of from $449 to $1,459; complaints about short battery life; limited apps (so far); the dreaded Dork Factor.

Stream, You Stream, We All Stream… for TV

Online video streaming services such as Netflix, CraveTV and Shomi have revolutionized the way people are watching television. These streaming services, which all offer different content, make it possible to watch anything, from live news and sports to TV reruns, at your convenience, and on any device.

Pros: Canadians now have unlimited access to a catalogue of movies and TV shows for a fixed monthly price.
Cons: Compulsive binge watching. Yes, it’s a thing.

On the Right Track(er)

Assuming you actually want to know your heart rate, the number of steps you’ve walked and your body mass index at various points in the day, the Fitbit wraps around your wrist and pairs with a smartphone to provide that information—and much more.

Pros: Easy to use; several different models and price points.
Cons: Some users question the product’s accuracy in collecting data; everyone can tell you’re a step counter.

A Core Business for Apple

The success of Apple Pay in the U.S. market has generated enthusiasm about plans to launch the mobile payment service in Canada this fall. Apple Pay allows iPhone, Apple Watch or iPad users to make credit or debit card purchases in stores by waving their device over a wireless reader.

Pros: Ease; convenience; cool.
Cons: Do you really need spending money to be more painless?

Self-balancing Scooter

It may or may not help with your daily commute to the office, but for around $600, you can get yourself one of a growing number of personal transportation devices that has wheels. Essentially an electric skateboard. So, unlike a Segway, it may actually boost your cool factor with teenagers. Well, until the Hendo Hoverboard is widely available.

Pros: Rapper Wiz Khalifa was arrested for failing to disembark from his hoverboard at border security.
Cons: It’s heavy and the battery runs down quickly.

Crisis? What Crisis?

Risk management is at the top of every corporate agenda, but few organizations have plans in place for coping with crises. In today’s world, that is a risky proposition.

Every crisis has a unique dynamic and set of circumstances. There is almost never a single response or solution when things fall apart. That said, there’s typically one common denominator in every crisis: organizations seldom have even a basic contingency plan in place.

At a time when risk management is at the top of every corporate agenda, lack of preparation for a crisis represents an extreme risk. After all, information technology and social media can destroy in minutes a valuable brand or reputation that has taken years to cultivate. It doesn’t take long for share price and capital markets to reflect—or even amplify—the damage. Not to mention how competitors stand to benefit.

All too often, valuable time is lost to panic and confusion at the outset of a crisis. Instead of responding quickly and firmly, management—especially in large organizations—is often left scrambling to figure out priorities, personnel and processes.

After 15 years on the front lines of crisis management, Navigator has some insights into how organizations and their leaders can develop and deploy custom crisis communications plans.

1. Client Overview
Navigator works closely with the client to better understand:

  • Operations
  • Typical issues/possible crises
  • Key audiences (internal and external)
  • Regular and extraordinary communication channels
  • Cultural characteristics of the client and its stakeholders (board, executive, employees, shareholders, customers, etc.)

2. Crisis Plan Development

  • Identify possible crises
  • Identify core communication teams and additional resources needed for each possible type of crisis
  • Identify audience
  • Identify channels for each audience
  • Prepare draft materials

3. Awareness Development

  • Meeting with key internal clients on principles of crisis communication
  • The session is intended to increase internal cultural awareness of risks associated with handling crises

4. Training

  • Communication/message training for key communicators and spokespersons Media training for key spokespersons
  • Facilitation of desktop simulation for crisis plan

1. Evaluation

  • Team identification and alert Potential impact analysis
  • Risk and damages assessment
  • Public visibility assessment
  • Engagement decisions (whether to communicate proactively or reactively, how broadly, and to which specific audiences under what circumstances, and how)

2. Ongoing Crisis Management

  • Identify possible crises
  • Identify core communication teams and additional resources needed for each possible type of crisis
  • Identify audience
  • Identify channels for each audience
  • Prepare draft materials

3. Recovery

  • Team identification and alert Potential impact analysis
  • Review campaign objectives and metrics
  • Determine lessons learned and incorporate into an updated response plan
  • Convene meeting with internal stakeholders to share insights and close file

The Quest for Social Licence

As the sophistication of stakeholders has increased and the use of communications technologies has become commonplace, more complex and in-depth programs of research have become critical tools.

The term ‘social licence’ gets batted around a great deal these days, particularly among those involved in developing communications and activation campaigns in support of major projects and initiatives. It refers to the processes by which a company or organization seeks the permission to proceed with a project that affects a wide range of communities and requires their broad-based support.

But how—especially given the range of stakeholders, subgroups, special interests and even individuals who demand to have their voices heard on almost any initiative—is social licence attained? And how can the risks to reputation, brand and budgets be mitigated along the way?

In the last few years, the rise of social media and the creation of single-issue online communities and alliances have added to the public noise around social licence. These factors have successfully stalled projects and driven up their costs significantly.

They have also negatively influenced the political agenda. After all, few politicians have any appetite for championing projects that divide their voter base.

To contain the influence of special interest groups, companies and organizations are increasingly using opinion research
to gauge public opinion and manage stakeholder environments.
Opinion polls that simply determine support for or opposition to a particular initiative are no longer enough. As the sophistication of stakeholders has increased and the use of communications technologies has become commonplace, more complex and in-depth programs of research have become critical tools.

A well-executed program of research focuses on three main objectives:

1. Determining perceived benefits and disadvantages/risks of a project among all identifiable stakeholders, including the population as a whole, local and community residents, interveners, special interest groups, allies and opponents.
2. Measuring the credibility of all stakeholders and the extent to which each can or might influence the public debate.
3. Tracking of messages to ensure all communication is effective—to gauge the influence of detractors’/opponents’ messages and to measure how messages are received by the public and large and targeted segments of the population.

One important aim of research is to identify the likely benefit of a project. Often such benefits are economic, particularly if a project creates long-term or permanent jobs, improves a community’s infrastructure or results in new opportunities for a community or stakeholder to generate revenue.

In most instances, both qualitative and quantitative research is essential to gaining a clear understanding of a project’s benefits and drawbacks.

Quantitative research isolates key benefits, as well as what drives support and opposition. Subsequent analysis not only reveals what influences positions, it identifies the arguments or messages that defuse opposition and build support.

Qualitative research—including focus groups, citizen panels or one-on-one in-depth interviews—uncovers the nuances of benefits and opposition, the caveats associated with support, and how benefits are articulated or described.

In Navigator’s experience, social licence is only achieved when project advocates can demonstrate that their position is reasonable, can make it comprehensible to the public and stakeholder groups, and can effectively neutralize or undercut opponents’ views. Organizations and companies must understand who speaks with authority and credibility—both for and against a project—to calibrate messages and then find the right spokesperson to deliver them.

Finally, campaigns need follow-up. Campaigns that fail to track and measure opinion over the longer term often fail to take into account issues or viewpoints as they emerge and recede. Responding to public hearings, local debates and social media campaigns that influence public thinking requires flexibility.

Research tracking should be done in tandem with effective media and social media monitoring programs to isolate the specific messages or combination of messages that are influencing opinion among key segments.

Well-designed and effectively executed programs of research can be essential to the success of protracted and challenging projects. If knowledge is power, then knowing and understanding the full gamut of opinions is essential to attaining social licence.