Red Sauce

July 10, 2014

The fix is in: critics and credibility

Defying the Critics with Words and Deeds

Keep your focus on the business. Engage your friends. Be a good community partner. That’s the way to wear down your critics.
Doing the right thing for nearly 30 years paid off for Simpson Tacoma Kraft Company this spring when it successfully sold its Tacoma pulp and paper mill to RockTenn. The deal was made possible in part by turning around the tarnished reputation that Simpson inherited when it became the mill’s owner.
From the start, Simpson invested steadily in environmental improvements, advanced technology, training and collaborative community relationships. By the time of the sale in May, Georgia-based RockTenn, a leading integrated packaging manufacturer, saw Tacoma Kraft as a valuable West Coast growth opportunity.

News of the Tacoma Kraft sale brought understanding nods and expressions of gratitude toward Simpson rather than gloomy letters to the editor.
JayRay was Simpson’s strategic communications advisor throughout the transformation. Since 1985, we have woven together media relations, employee communications, event management, community relations and marketing materials. And we were a key part of the Simpson transaction team before and during the sale to RockTenn, guiding the announcement strategy.
Simpson Lumber Company, with lumber operations in Washington, Georgia and South Carolina, remains headquartered in Tacoma, where it continues to earn its strong reputation.

Managing Issues with Skill and Credibility

What took years to build can take but a social media-fueled moment to destroy. Just ask Target or The Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Because bad news moves instantly, it’s all the more critical to act quickly with a smart, strategic approach. The difference can mean a one-day story versus a months-long nightmare. 

Successful issue management is not just about what is being done and said–how you address an issue and talk about it is equally important. 
GET READY. Some issues announce themselves quite loudly via social media, customers or activists. More typically, issues emerge and develop over enough time to allow companies a critical window to understand, anticipate and plan.

BE STRATEGIC. All organizations face issues that can threaten a reputation but not all issues should be treated equally. Thoughtfully assess the potential impact of an issue and analyze its implications. Issues can then be stack ranked and prioritized for budget and resource allocation.  

ACT SMART. Each issue management plan should include clear roles and accountabilities, agreed-upon outcomes and communication tactics tailored for the specific situation. Those tactics need to integrate consistent messaging across internal and external channels as well as expert media relations strategies.  

Olivia Pope, of the hit TV series “Scandal,” has nothing on Libby Catalinich. Once dubbed the Crisis Queen by an appreciative CEO, Libby has been deftly managing challenging issues for nearly 30 years. How does she cope with the pressure cooker that comes with being a “fixer?”  She plays soccer, gets her Zen on in her vegetable garden and takes in the local Puget Sound arts scene.