Regenerating the oxygen wasted in managing an issue

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Michael Sukkar MP

Michael Sukkar, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, made some interesting points and admissions at the Pritchitt Partners’ “Annual New Year Kick-off” held at the end of January.

Over 100 guests heard Michael explain Government policy on a wide range of financial and economic matters.

He said that Government should be neither friend nor foe to the financial services industry but admitted that the Royal Commission into Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services, while necessary, will suck up a lot of oxygen.

It’s an interesting point that is often overlooked by organisations: any issue, and particularly crisis, will inevitably take a lot of time, energy and focus away from other important concerns for management – such as running the business and its day to day operations.

It is why managing an issue well is so important.  The quicker it is resolved, the sooner executives can get to work on other, more positive, areas and focus on repairing an organisation’s reputation.

Working to a well prepared communications strategy is an essential part of good management in any service industry. Not only when an organisation wants to promote itself, its services or products, but also when there are problems to explain.

The priorities in areas such as key messages, communication channels and target audiences might need fine-tuning but keeping stakeholders, particularly staff and clients, appropriately informed remains essential. Gimmicks and pleas to “trust us, we’ve changed” are not going to be convincing.

Adding to Michael’s point, when oxygen is being used up managing an issue, lack of available time can mean the obvious gets overlooked.

Michael also mentioned how the present Government also recognises the need for trust in the financial services industry and this is clearly an area where communication professionals can help.

A critical part of this is reputation management, not just for the industry as a whole but for all its component organisations.

Indeed, reputation management and improving understanding should be cornerstones of all communication programs for organisations in financial services.

In this we would argue that for good strategies and programs to be developed, an in-depth knowledge of financial services and its history is essential.

For communication advisers to be effective they need to be able to understand financial services jargon and technical language and have the skill to translate it into language understood by stakeholders.

Without the ability to develop communication content that is easy to understand and persuasive to the general public and opinion formers, they will not add value to the communication process.