Be authentic; be proactive; be positive [interview]
Tony Coll is one of the UK’s most experienced reputation management and crisis communication specialists. A former journalist in newspapers, BBC TV and BBC radio, he also works as a writer, producer and director in TV drama, film, light entertainment and corporate video. He now uses his knowledge of the media, how it works, and of the key concepts of news and storytelling, to help individuals and organisations maintain and improve their reputations, in good times and bad. His consultancy covers writing, speeches, video and media interview training.
Tony is one of the key note speakers at the“Marketing Brilliance Awards”, Georgia, held in Tbilisi on 25th October 2013.
Marketing Brilliance Award offers:
- One-day conference featuring world-class speakers from Microsoft, BBC, London Transport Museum, Nokia, Philips and many more
- Gala dinner and the Awards Ceremony
Q: What would you say the critical success factors are and how difficult was your journey to success?
A: One of my favourite sayings is “find your song and sing it with joy” because I think that’s the key to human happiness as well as material success. But it’s a lot harder than it sounds. First you have to know yourself, and get a realistic understanding of what you are good at and what you are not so good at. Only then can you decide where you want to go and what you want to achieve. It took me many years to go through that process personally and realise that communication, particularly on behalf of people and causes that deserve a wider hearing, was where both my heart and my talents lay.
Q: How important is reputation management for companies and what damage it can do?
A: Reputation management can be a matter of life and death for an organisation. A good reputation can take years to build, and can be destroyed in seconds, by a foolish mistake, one person’s bad behaviour, or even matters beyond your control. In my presentation I will be telling some stories of individual crises, how they occurred and how well or poorly they were handled.
Q: What would be your advice on the best approach to crisis communication?
A: First of all you have to be honest about what has happened. Many organisations damage their reputations still further by trying to deny the undeniable or defend the indefensible. If people have been hurt by your actions, you have to say sorry, and mean it. Then you have to show that you are taking action to fix the crisis. Those are by far the most important factors, particularly in the first stages of the crisis. After that comes the inquiry – how did this happen? How do we make sure it never happens again? And it’s important that the recommendations that result from your inquiry are actually implemented. Of course, a crisis is never full predictable. But you can prepare to some extent by having a crisis plan and a crisis team that hold regular practice sessions.
Q: You are delivering the topic: ‘Reputation management and Crisis Communications’ at the marketing brilliance awards, Tbilisi. Could you please tell us what the delegates will take away from your presentation?
A: My key messages are summed up in the tagline “be authentic; be proactive; be positive”. An organisation that is not authentic, that is pretending to be something other than it really is, will always suffer during a crisis, because the pretence will be discovered and you will look foolish or hypocritical. Being proactive is about being flexible and prepared for change, so that when an unexpected crisis happens, you are quick-witted enough to respond quickly and appropriately. And being positive means having the confidence to be proud of your real achievements and not be cowed by unfair negative publicity, even in the face of a crisis.
Q: Have you been to Georgia before?
A: Never! I am really looking forward to it. I know it is a beautiful and mountainous country with a very independent spirit and a fascinating history and cultural heritage. As a linguist I will try to learn at least a little of the language, which is seemingly related to no other language in the world, and the very intriguing alphabet! Georgia gets very little coverage in the Western media. Maybe I can do something to change that…?
Q: Have you worked with the organisers of the event before?
A: Yes, I ran a workshop for them at the ‘Cutting Edge Marketing and PR’ conference in London earlier this year. BOC-Global Events Group are very professional and good to work with, and I’m sure they will create a truly amazing conference in Georgia.
Tony Coll is one of the keynote speakers at the “Marketing Brilliance Awards”, Georgia, held in Tbilisi on 25th October 2013. The ceremony is organised by a British company – BOC Global Events Group – supported by most of Georgian Media:
Event Marketing Partner: Marketer.ge; General Media Partner: Palitra Media, Official Radio: Palitra Radio, Radio Imedi ; Official Online TV: Palitra TV, ITV.ge; Media Partners: BPI, Caucasus Business Week, Ambebi.ge, iMarketing.ge, Presa.ge, People.ge, Droni.ge.
Find Out More: www.Marketing-Brilliance.boc-uk.com