Τετάρτη, 27 Οκτωβρίου 2010

Clients want more for less

Αυτόν τον τίτλο έδωσε η δημοσιογράφος Zornica Stoilova της εφημερίδας Dnevnik, μία από τις  μεγαλύτερες καθημερινές οικονομικές εφημερίδες στη Βουλγαρία, στη συνέντευξη που παραχώρησε η Πανδώρα Λυκούρη Γενική Διευθύντρια της CIVITAS στις 19 Οκτωβρίου στη Σόφια.

Η συνέντευξη πραγματοποιήθηκε στο πλαίσιο του forum που διοργανώθηκε από το Ελληνικό Επιχειρηματικό Συμβούλιο της Βουλγαρίας στο ξενοδοχείο Sheraton της Σόφιας με κεντρικό θέμα «Μπορεί η εικόνα της εταιρείας σας να ωφεληθεί σε καιρό κρίσης?».


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Summary:                                     
We met Pandora Lycouri at the PR forum organized by the Hellenic Business Council in Bulgaria following her participation in a panel discussion on the topic “Can corporate reputation benefit in times of crisis?. We ask her immediately why none of the speakers answered this well put question. She is honest: “It is extremely difficult to answer this in such a short time.”

The issue, however, that businesses need to be even more aware of is perceptions about why this crisis happened. "Companies must understand that the global crisis is not just financial. The biggest problem is not the drop in sales, but that people hold corporations accountable for what has happened; and the consequence is that the trust [between corporations and citizens] is gone”, says Lycouri. She adds that companies should take this new reality into account when managing their reputation and communicating in this new context.

The importance of being honest and the lessons learnt from the Greek crisis

Pandora Lycouri is a communications specialist with significant experience in crisis management. She says that usually the first reaction of businesses in times of crisis is to conceal that they have a problem. “Being honest is more important today than it ever has been before,” states Lycouri and gives an example. “In the past, disgruntled employees who realized that the company they work for does not ‘practice what it preaches’, could share their opinion with family and friends. Today, they can easily go online and their story can instantly travel the ‘world-wide-web’. “

                                            When a company tells a story about itself, it must be certain that what it says resonates with its audiences. And that this story really means something to them. “Companies often speak like ‘soldiers’ using a ‘wooden’ language, instead of addressing their stakeholders with simple, trustworthy messages in which they can believe”, explains Lycouri.

She says that the communications strategy adopted by Greece for getting out of its image crisis is based on this principle. “It is not by chance that our Prime Minister has chosen to speak on CNN and Bloomberg. The most important thing right now for Greece is to succeed in restoring trust amongst foreign investors. Nobody wants to invest in a country perceived to be dominated by bureaucracy and lack of transparency”, commented the General Manager of CIVITAS. She advises Greek companies operating in Bulgaria to make sure that their audiences understand who they are and what they stand for. And in this respect, that they build strong reputations which set them apart from the noise and hysteria surrounding Greece.

                                             What is the impact of the economic crisis on the PR business?
                                                          
“It could have been a crisis, but rather it’s an opportunity”, says Pandora Lycouri when we ask her about the previous year in terms of PR business for CIVITAS. And she adds: “We didn’t lose any clients, but the global trend is that clients want ‘more for less’ and we must demonstrate that this can be delivered.”

On a separate topic, according to Lycouri the challenge facing the PR industry is that it competes for the same talent that could opt to work either for management consultancies or in-house positions. “We need people who can successfully navigate the political and business environment. Our objective is to retain the best talent in the market, without being in a position to offer remuneration packages equal to in-house positions”, admits Lycouri. And smiles: “But this is a continuous challenge that we must learn to manage”.  


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