Navigating the Waters of Responsible Communication

It was indeed, an occasion for unlocking the Power of Responsible Communication with Isabel Lara at WPRF 2023.

Isabel Lara, Chief Communication Officer of NPR, delivered an illuminating keynote address on the topic of “Responsible Communication – Your Reputation, Your Influence, Your Role.” Her insights shed light on the critical role communication plays in building trust, reputation, and influence in today’s complex landscape.

Essence of Responsible Communication

Lara opened her talk by emphasising the essence of responsible communication. She stressed that effective communication is critical to establish trust among employees and to cultivate a prominent reputation with stakeholders, partners and consumers. Lara elucidated that the role of the Communications division is – to craft messages that are not only consistent but also strategic, transparent and trustworthy.

Going on to unravel the different facets of communication, she highlighted three fundamental categories: Internal communication, Stakeholder communication and External communication. Internal communication, she pointed out, is vital, as employees should be the first to receive important information. Stakeholder communication, on the other hand, revolves around ensuring that significant announcements don’t catch anyone off guard, particularly the Board, Clients and Partners. Lastly, External communication pertains to the continuous outreach to the press, consumers and the wider audience.

The Power of Planning

According to her, meticulous planning is key to creating effective communication. She posed a crucial question: when should you involve your communications team? Her answer was unequivocal: NOW. Lara underscored the importance of including essential elements like goals, messaging, target audiences, timelines, and prepared responses to tough questions in your communication plan. She acknowledged that there will always be unexpected twists, but with a well-crafted plan, challenges can be navigated successfully.

The NPR Case Study: Twexit

Drawing a compelling case study from NPR’s own history, she delved into the Twexit incident. NPR, founded in 1971 as an alternative to commercial media, faced a critical decision when Twitter labeled them as “State affiliated media.” This seemingly innocuous label raised concerns about the independence of NPR’s journalism and, consequently, their reputation. In response, NPR decided to leave Twitter, a move that garnered both widespread support and trolling.

Crafting a Thoughtful Response

Lara detailed the comprehensive communication plan NPR executed during the Twexit event. This plan had a meticulously detailed timeline, specifying who should know what and when. The plan included messages to staff, partners, the audience, and press statements. NPR’s decision to leave Twitter attracted significant media coverage, highlighting the importance of a well-thought-out communication strategy.

Sharing some key takeaways, she shared several valuable lessons from the Twexit incident. She stressed the importance of a detailed communication plan, the wisdom of taking your time in making decisions, and the significance of negotiating with reporters when stories leak. She also noted the media’s enduring interest in stories about the media.

In a fireside chat with Nikhil Dey, Executive Director of Adfactors PR, he kicked it off by reflecting on the Twexit episode as “a real storm in a Twitter cup.” When asked about the key learnings from the incident, she emphasised the importance of building strong relationships with reporters. Regarding podcasts, Lara noted the growing interest in audio news, especially among the younger generation. She advised having a skilled editor for podcast content.

Lara championed the importance of radio as a media platform and advised against ignoring it in media planning, highlighting the intimate connections it can foster. When discussing a “healthy news diet,” she offered a succinct piece of advice: “Don’t respond to trolls.”

Isabel Lara’s keynote address at WPRF 2023 provided profound insights into responsible communication, illustrating how it can shape brand reputation, influence and role in the ever-evolving world of media and public relations.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

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Shree Lahiri
Shree is the Senior Editor at Reputation Today and hopes to move from one focus area to another in the editions that will be released this year. Having worked in Corporate Communications teams, she has experience of advertising, public relations, investor and employee communications, after which she moved to the other side – journalism. She enjoys writing and believes the power of the pen is indeed mighty. Covering the entertainment beat and the media business, she has been involved in a wide range of activities that have thrown open storytelling opportunities.

She can be reached at: @shree_la on twitter

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