Communications

Corporate Communications

Typically, Ward is engaged to either function as an outsourced Corporate Communications department for the client or to augment the in-house communications team with additional expertise and bandwidth. We support senior management teams in communicating routine and significant company events, including:

  • Employee engagement and direction toward company goals
  • Turnarounds and bankruptcy
  • Charitable giving and social responsibility
  • Financial performance and company strategy
  • Labor issues
  • Legal matters
  • Management succession
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Public offerings
  • Joint ventures and strategic partnerships
  • Restructuring
  • Takeover attempts

We first seek to understand management’s business goals, and provide meaningful, cost-effective ways to address each audience’s need for information, with the intent to inspire the actions management needs each audience to take. Additionally, we help transform misperceptions and attitudes preventing the company from moving forward cooperatively with each constituent group that affects its ability to reach its goals.

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Management Communications

Consistently we observe similar findings in employee surveys. Employees report they trust direct supervisors more than senior management. Management has unsuccessfully relied on mid-managers to cascade company goals and messages to staff. Yet, employees routinely report department heads withhold or delay the information, using knowledge as power. Or they put a twist on the information to fulfill an individual agenda and maintain the silo effect. Other more supportive managers intend to share management’s message with their teams but their own poor listening and communications skills undermine management’s intended outcomes.

Ward has helped many management teams produce better employee performance as we transform the dysfunctional communication that often evolves when the function is left unmanaged or needs to be adapted to the current state of the business.

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Employee Communications

If employees are not living the brand promise – presuming management has taken responsibility for completing this strategic step — or understanding the current business objective, management’s efforts to meet bottom line objectives may be for naught.

Often underestimated for its bottom line impact, Employee Communication helps drive revenue, improve quality, improve safety performance, increase customer satisfaction, attract new talent and reduce turnover costs.

Our award-winning Internal Communication strategies have included:
Employee-Communications-section

  • Employee baseline and benchmarking surveys
  • Internal communication plans
  • Culture-building campaigns
  • Communication skills training
  • Team-building and leadership training
  • Employee events
  • Executive speeches
  • HR issues management
  • Internal brand launches
  • Management meetings
  • Merger communications
  • HSE and HR training materials
  • Audio-visual production
  • Print materials
  • Digital newsletters and forums
  • 3-dimensional items and corporate gifts
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Marketing Communications

For in-bound and outbound consumer and business-to-business marketing initiatives, Ward creates and employs sound principles of Marketing Communications, Digital Marketing Strategy, Content Strategy and SEO Strategy to support:

  • Sales and market share objectives
  • New market entries
  • Supplier/Dealer/Broker/Partner communication
  • Product launches
  • Product promotions
  • Event success

Additionally, Ward helps with clients through effective use of CRM programs and marketing automation to support sales objectives

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Crisis Communications

Crisis Response

You can prevent a Public Relations Disaster with sound Crisis Communication Planning and Response. Among the countless crises – both operational and reputational –we have faced with our clients:
PR-Crisis-Response
  • deaths of management
  • employee fatalities
  • breeches of security
  • unethical and illegal acts by employees
  • wrongful deaths of innocent bystanders
  • environmental incidents
  • threatening and disruptive acts by activists
  • community evacuations
  • personal injury
  • attempted murder
  • Oil & Gas public relations events such as explosions, well blow-outs, pipeline punch-throughs
  • Hotel public relations events such as a drive by shooting, guest room security breeches, disorderly guest conduct, suicides on property
  • financial investigations
  • lawsuits
  • community opposition
  • regulatory breeches
  • kidnapping
  • hostage situations
  • labor strikes
  • allegations of impropriety
  • threats of government shut-down
  • product recalls
  • safety and security lapses

To mitigate the damage of an unplanned event, we provide clients with strategic, cohesive public relations strategies that take into consideration each constituent’s relevance to the issue, and the intended outcome. Ward’s sister company, OnwardU, offers a series of workshops led by experienced crisis communications experts bringing their real-world experience preparing for and responding to unplanned events to your frontline team.

Depending on the nature of the incident, Ward public relations consultants and OnwardU facilitators provide a variety of communication support services to reduce the relationship impacts among key stakeholders, such as:

  • News media and social media monitoring
  • Issues identification and message development
  • Identification of voices of opposition
  • Response strategy development
  • Selection and preparation of spokespeople, including each spokesperson’s role
  • Identification of internal and third-party subject matter experts and allies
  • Rapid-response community blogs to demonstrate transparency and collaboration with affected communities;
  • Coordination with first responders’ public information officers, hospital public relations representatives, legal counsel, HR, etc.
  • Proactive and responsive media relations
  • Internal communication to ensure workforces act responsibly and continue to conduct business, as appropriate
  • Town Hall meetings in public forums
  • Thought leader, grassroots communications
  • Social media management
  • Customer communication
  • Vendor/supplier communication
  • Community relations
  • Key partner, influencer communication

Risk Mitigation and Preparedness

More often ─ partially as a result of increasing and highly vocal public scrutiny and emergency response regulation─ clients request Ward’s and sister company OnwardU’s help to ensure they are equally prepared to deal with the public relations crisis that accompanies the operational crisis.

Further, many senior management teams realize that the next crisis they face may be purely reputational, and their existing operational response plans fall woefully short of preparing management, communications teams and business unit leadership to mitigate the risks with swift, effective deployment of a pre-planned, coordinated response.

However, many must face the harsh and unnecessarily costly realities of their decisions to continue to postpone crisis communications preparedness. These clients hire Ward to help them through a crisis, and afterward request our help to develop an effective response plan, along with the many communications tools they now realize should have been prepared well in advance and at the ready to handle an unplanned event.

Whether the client comes to Ward or OnwardU with foresight or in hindsight, our seasoned public relations experts and facilitators provide the experience and guidance they need with:

  • One-day, facilitated sessions through OnwardU to help management teams develop their customized, crisis communications plan
  • Participation in company emergency response drills, to ensure communications protocols and procedures work well in light of operational response policies and procedures
  • Company Q&A documents to ensure consistency, accuracy of responses
  • Designated spokesperson training
  • Field-level first-responder training to effectively re-direct inquiries to designated spokespersons
  • Subject matter expert training to ensure their preparedness to support spokespersons
  • Gatekeeper training to ensure support and administrative functions properly manage hand-off of media, regulatory and stakeholder inquiries to designated responders

Post-event Recovery

  • Litigation public relations
  • Community relations
  • Employee and employee family communications
  • Safety communications
  • Investor relations support
  • Customer, partner, supply chain communication
  • Reputation management and restoration
  • Employee communications training to improve their effectiveness in meetings, presentations and written communication
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Research

The basis of sound, targeted public relations and marketing programs, Research validates management’s perceptions of the underlying issues, and reduces waste in off-target tactical best-guesses in the marketing and public relations budget.

We employ a range of research techniques, from the quick and inexpensive, to full market research and public polling:

  • Advisory boards
  • Employee satisfaction surveys
  • Executive triad interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Man-on-the-street interviews
  • Online surveys
  • Opinion polls
  • Quantitative market research
  • Qualitative market analysis
  • Soft soundings of editors, association leadership and other key influencers
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Meeting Facilitation

Clients turn to the professionals at our sister company OnwardU for Meeting Facilitation when they need an unbiased third-party facilitator, a panel moderator, a peacemaker, or a seasoned industry expert who understands industry jargon and trends, and knows how to lead a session to produce a positive outcome in short order.

Communications_Meeting-FacilitationOur meeting facilitators conduct a variety of session or design custom sessions, such as:

  • Formal brainstorms
  • Technical/engineering work team sessions
  • Department and team sessions
  • Vision and strategy sessions
  • Mission and values sessions
  • Branding sessions
  • Conflict resolution sessions
  • Advisory boards
  • Employee gatherings
  • Community town hall meetings
  • Management and board retreats
  • Industry collaborative events
  • Customer events and workshops
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Advisory Boards

Advisory Boards, assembled and conducted by professional meeting facilitator’s at Ward’s sister company OnwardU provide insight as well as create a committed group of advocates for your organization’s mission.

Our trained facilitators conduct single and long-running:

  • Client and prospect advisory boards
  • Employee advisory boards
  • Community advisory boards

By way of example, our programs have included Advisory Boards for:

  • Multiple US properties for Accor hotels
  • Asian community leaders for Service Corporation International
  • Customers of an international manufacturing concern
  • Drilling contractors for a US shipyard
  • Parents in a troubled school district
  • Ministers and healthcare providers for numerous funeral homes
  • Employees of a Houston hotel
  • Corporate executives for a non-profit recycling organization

 

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Executive Presentations

Communications_Executive-PresentationsWard and sister company OnwardU help clients develop and deliver compelling Presentations by assisting them with:

  • Identification and placement of speakers in industry forums
  • Topic and audience research
  • Message development
  • Scripting and speechwriting
  • Powerpoint slides
  • Compelling visual aids
  • Speaker training
  • Audience interaction techniques
  • Audience feedback tools

 

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Media Training

PR_Media-TrainingGetting your point across in a media interview is not a talent, but rather a skill learned in Media Training. Through our sister company OnwardU, experienced facilitators have trained hundreds of spokespeople to deliver quotable messages via print, broadcast, wire and online media outlets in executive and group sessions, which may be customized to your particular situation. Routinely we conduct:

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Speaker Training

Sometimes an organization’s greatest thinker is not the organization’s greatest orator. Clients employ Ward’s sister company OnwardU to conduct Speaker Training on an individual and group basis for:

  • Analyst presentations
  • Keynote speeches
  • Media interviews
  • News conferences
  • Panel participation
  • Sales presentations
  • Workshop presentations
  • Trade show talks
  • Customer and prospect Lunch ‘n Learns
  • Trade show presentations
  • Employee Town Hall and annual meetings
  • Division leadership presentations to headquarters and senior management
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