Community Consultation and Stakeholder Management

From time to time, part of our role in working with clients can be to support a consumer’s understanding of a brand going through organisational change.

From time to time, part of our role in working with clients can be to support a consumer’s understanding of a brand going through organisational change. Whether it’s a change to the brand’s service offering, a re-brand or a shift in management, it’s important to consider certain steps in our strategic communication approach, in order to maintain positive consumer sentiment towards the brand.

Change management is often a topic which only has a light shone upon it when a brand hasn’t managed a change well, as we saw last year when the major supermarkets first attempted to introduce a single-use plastic bag ban, subsequently back-flipping on the initiative.

Since recently implementing a plan to change our attitudes towards rubbish and become a take-away coffee cup free office however, as an agency we found ourselves asking: what steps need to be considered to effectively manage change and support consumers through the transition?

Some key elements which we consider essentials steps include:

  1. Proactivecommunication

In the lead up to the change as well as throughout the transition period, developing communication materials which are distributed proactively to a focussed group by the brand will allow them to control the release and positive positioning of information.

  1. Education around the change

Educating consumers on the positives surrounding the change will also go a long way. Consumers need to be taken on a journey in order to understand what the change will mean and connect to the brand in a way that makes them feel they have a role to fulfil in supporting the shift and changing their mindset or behaviour.

  1. Change Ambassadors 

Adopting a change ambassador – someone whom consumers can connect with to learn how to manage and help them accept the change is an essential tool which should be utilised by brands.

In the case of a recent Transport for NSW advertising campaign, which aimed at educating rail users about the temporary closure of the Epping to Chatswood rail line for major upgrades for around seven months, we saw Lee Lin Chin, a voice of authority who swept our television screens as an SBS news reader, had been adopted by the government to front the campaign as a change ambassador. Her role was to raise awareness of the significant changes and disruption involved in the development and help promote the positives to consumers, educate them on ways to manage the changes and also support them through the transition as a familiar and credible figure.

Change ambassadors can also come in the form of a social influencer or key spokesperson from within the brand.

  1. Integrated Strategy

Integrating the change management strategy throughout all aspects of the business and its media channels including paid, earned and owned media will ensure communication materials are carefully linked together. As a result, consumers will develop a sense of trust towards the brand and find it easier to accept the change, as key messages feel cohesive and the shift feels controlled.

As a brand, being nimble and adaptable to change is the only way to move forward and grow. An important consideration is to never forget to take consumers on the journey with you!

By Bronte Hughes, Senior Account Executive

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