Crisis PRUncategorized

Crisis PR and the Murdochs #2: Strategy v The Tactics Trap – one reason why RM should succeed

By July 19, 2011 No Comments

Strategies are ‘how’ over the  longer term we will achieve our objectives; tactics are short term activities to achieve them. A plan needs both.

Avoid The Tactics Trap. It’s tempting in a crisis because The Tactics Trap is short termism – activities aimed at a quick solution. Rather, gather around you trusted advisors to talk strategy.

There was a wonderful article last week by Paul Thomasch that contains a nugget of gold for public relations practitioners, particularly those in Corporate Affairs or Crisis PR.

The article ‘Murdoch turns to PR elite for crisis control’, describes the expert panel that RM has gathered around him. Extracting from the article:

Alex Bigg and James Lundie from Edelman, the world’s biggest PR firm, and Steven Rubenstein from Rubenstein Public Relations, a fixture in New York communications with a long history with the Murdochs.

The in-house team was led by Joel Klein, who once headed the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust unit and Matthew Anderson, who runs News Corp’s strategic affairs.

…. In a sign that News Corp is concerned the crisis could spread to the United States, it hired Sard Verbinnen, based in New York, and The Glover Park Group, based in Washington D.C., to assist in public and government relations.

We recommend this ‘council’ of experts. One of the cleverest companies we work with – a mining company – has retained 4 companies of PR consultants, not for their tactical skills (which are there in abundance) but for their strategic skills. The individuals have been retained to think and advise. We meet about once a quarter  –  7 people in a Brisbane office – to review the company’s progress at fitting into the community.

Pity the beleaguered coal seam gas industry doesn’t take a leaf from this company’s, and Murdoch’s book.

The skill in strategy development is working out what to do now to receive an outcome later: in a few months; or a few years. If a company has a really thorny problem, what does it have to do long term to gain its social licence to operate: to gain social acceptance?

One reason that  it takes the brainpower (and experience) of a panel, with really complex problems,  is long term planning can have unexpected consequences. Tactics are so different: they have immediate outcomes which is appealing – the public likes tactics.

That’s why success always requires a short term solution (tactics) and a longer term strategy. It’s relatively easy to do tactics; it’s harder to do strategy. Which is why so many don’t do it. The easy way out (short term) is to leap-frog from one short term solution to the next. It looks good for those that live in the present (politicians, journalists).

Leave a Reply