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How to handle media
in a time of crisis

Janine LazarusJust as an army should always be on red alert and prepared to go into battle at a moment’s notice, companies should be geared to manage their reputation, deal with often unwelcome media interest, and mitigate the consequences of bad publicity. Media consultant JANINE LAZARUS outlines the rules of media engagement in times of crisis.

At some point, most companies will experience some form of media or publicity crisis. That is pretty much a given. So, to minimise the effects of negative publicity, the possible loss of reputation and, ultimately, the loss of profit, what is needed is a “fat-free”, decentralised approach to communicating messages.

To this end, I recommend a less “top heavy” approach to interfacing with the media. Managing negative media interest involves far more than just preparing a “holding statement”. It’s about empowering key staff members with the ability to communicate succinct messages to the media, without having to waste precious time waiting for head office to respond.



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Posted in the category: Insight, Strategy

East African operators
must get basics right

Competition in one of Africa’s most dynamic markets will allow operators to enjoy East Africa’s growth opportunities if they get the basics right, said participants at East Africa Com in Tanzania.

The mood was upbeat in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, last week, where over 450 telecommunications executives gathered for East Africa Com, their annual event in the region. The conference and exhibition brought together the leaders of the region’s stakeholders to discuss the commercial and technology strategies to maximise growth and improve services for users. From the debates that took place over the two days, it was clear that East Africa is one of the continent’s most dynamic markets.

East Africa ComThe message from some of the region’s major operators and investors at a plenary that opened the conference was that growth opportunities can be great in East Africa, for those who know how to grab them.

Most markets in the region experience high GDP growth, and favourable market and regulatory conditions. Host country Tanzania was presented as one of the most attractive of them, with 7% GDP growth, stable political conditions, dynamic operators and a low penetration levelwhich leaves room for growth.



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Posted in the category: News, Strategy, Technology

GM asks public to write
its history in a wiki

While many companies publish histories to commemorate special milestones, General Motors is putting a 21st Century, open-source twist on the way its history is told in cyberspace.

General Motors is inviting people worldwide to contribute to the Generations of GM Wiki on GMnext.com and share their personal, first-person experiences from the company’s first 100 years – everything from a story about a summer job in an assembly plant to pictures of a first car to favorite experiences with GM products.

A 1972 GM production team“The production group team I had been working in at the Chevrolet Nodular Iron Foundry decided to surprise the Plant Manager, Grant VanBuskirk, and go for the all time production record …”

An archive photo and excerpt from the Generations of GM wiki.

A wiki (Hawaiian for “fast”) comprises software that allows a web site or web-based article to be created, edited, updated and organised in a collaborative style. It is, for example, the engine behind the popular Wikipedia.

GM thinks its best authors are those who experienced the company firsthand – its employees, retirees, dealers, customers and the generations of people who have shaped GM.



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Posted in the category: Strategy, Technology

Learning the Write Stuff

Andrew Miller and Mandy de WaalAspirant business leaders often lose sight of the fact that writing and communicating are integral to conducting business well. Writing is a skill that can be honed, but it’s a lot like going to gym. It requires discipline and routine exercise. Writers MANDY DE WAAL and ANDREW MILLER show you how.

Writing well is all in the ability to love words and commit to a regular workout. This is no less true in business than it is in creative writing.

The first thing we tell people who want to write well is to read, read and read some more, because reading offers an understanding of language and the different uses and style of language. If you want to be a good writer then you need to read multiple styles. If Cosmopolitan or Loaded is a permanent fixture on your bedside stand and you’re deeply involved in the guts of business, you will need to develop a more engaging business style. Next time reach for a Business Day, Mail & Guardian, Sunday Independent or Maverick to help you hone your business writing style.

There are four golden rules of writing for business:



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Posted in the category: Insight, Strategy

Study reveals multinational’s
broad economic footprint

Every one person employed by multinational giant Unilever is responsible for the support of a further 22 individuals, according to a critical study of the company’s economic footprint in South Africa. The findings are expected to create the impetus for other multinationals and large businesses to re-look how they create and share wealth.

The “Footprint” study, a critical research project carried out by Professor Ethan Kapstein of INSEAD, a leading European business school, has found that every person employed by Unilever South Africa supported another 22 up and down the supply chain. This impact on jobs is regarded as significant in South Africa, with its extremely high unemployment.Gail Klintworth and Ethan Kapstein

Unilever SA’s Gail Klintworth with Professor Ethan Kapstein

The study also found that, for every R100 of sales by the company, a further R145 of value-added is created in the wider South African economy. The associated economic activity also generated nearly one percent of South Africa’s tax revenue.

The role of multinationals, especially in developing countries, has been the subject of debate for many years. Some governments and campaigning organisations have questioned whether multinationals do more good than harm in emerging markets.



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Posted in the category: Economy, Insight, Strategy

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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