Last week we saw Telstra announce a planned 1,100 redundancies. The media pounced, and splashed the Telstra brand across newspaper front pages, and lead item news stories on television and radio. The picture they painted was far from complimentary, and it was left to a Telstra spokesperson to play the ‘straight bat’; jumping on the defensive, and dealing with the ‘headline seeking’ questions. However, within 24 hours the ‘pack’ moved on, awaiting the next ‘big brand’ and its announcement. But, does it really need to be this way?

Large organisations are challenged when engaging with the media. Positive exposure builds brand awareness, with the possibility of new customers, and greater loyalty from existing customers. However, the challenge arises when the negative story (as Telstra experienced last week) does not portray the brand well; the media focusing on the damaging impacts of the change, and ignoring what the organisation will do, or is doing, to support those employees affected.

We work with a range of clients; some who are drawn into this cycle, and some who shun it. In our most recent research report, into the impact of restructuring on organisations, we came across both extremes.

One contributor to this report is a major manufacturer in a significant Australian industry. Each time they make any form of external announcement, the media ‘pack’ pounce. There is the inevitable story of the shocked employee, who hasn’t had time to digest the news, and this overshadows any positive work the organisation is doing to aid them. It is poor corporate branding for the employer, and makes us think a more proactive stance with the media could yield better value for the brand, and its followers.

In one particular instance where this cycle occurred, it was only the ABC who approached us after the event, to better understand the human impact of the story. We were able to outline to them a number of positive outcomes, and it is these outcomes that should be the focus of a restructure announcement.

At the other end of the spectrum, another contributor, and significant client, has never sought the media’s spotlight. They have successfully restructured their operations across Australia and NZ, without drawing attention to the issue, and in doing so, have retained the goodwill of their employees. The key to their success is the ongoing engagement with their key stakeholders