Getting Ready for the Information Vacuum

By Tal Wright

On March 28, 1979 an accident at The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania resulted in a partial meltdown in one of the plant’s nuclear reactors.  Cleanup started in August 1979, and ended in December 1993, with a total cleanup cost of about $1 billion. 

The accident remains the worst accident in U. S. commercial nuclear power history – and one of the most frequently recognized emergency communication failures. 

In fact, the lack of regular communications with the news media and public following the accident also caused one of the largest and scariest “information vacuums” in American history.

In addition to issuing a barrage of new nuclear power plant design and operations regulations after the accident, the U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) also mandated significant new nuclear emergency communications requirements for all U. S. nuclear power plants.

As you might expect, the NRC’s requirements are highly detailed and robust, but their purpose can be summed up fairly simply: Feed the information vacuum.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, and infringing on the freedom of the press (and is one of ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights).

And with the internet and the ability of broadcast journalists to beam any crisis across the country and the globe within minutes of locking a satellite truck’s signal into an orbiting satellite, the speed, agility and veracity of the press has never been greater.

Is your company successful?  Is your brand or product popular?  These benchmarks have value.  In fact, for the world’s top brands that “brand value” can translate into billions of dollars.  After all, you have worked for years to build and promote your brand, which drives the popularity of your products or services – and your revenues.

And you probably have insurance for property, casualty and liability.

But does your business have an emergency response – and communication – plan?  Do any of your employees or officers have experience with crisis response – or experience with media relations?

Do you have a plan to respond to the information vacuum

It’s one of the most essential tools you need to protect the brand equity that you have worked so hard to build, not to mention your reputation, your revenues and the future of your company.

The first, and most strategic, step to building a brand

By Tal Wright

Your Brand image is your reputation, your visibility, your “promise” to your customers – and your biggest marketing asset.  It attracts customers, referrals, and great employees.

Your brand is not your name, logo, tagline, web site, marketing materials or advertising.  These are essential tools for reminding your customers of what your brand stands for. 

“That company gets it.”  “They understand me.” “They know what I want.”  “They do a great job.” “Their people are great.”  “Their products are the best.”  “Their service is awesome.”

Now those are words you want to hear!  So what’s the secret to that kind of customer feedback?

It’s simple:  Identify what your customers value most from the product or service you provide.  These are your “brand promises” or “attributes” and they represent the essence of what customers need, want and value from your products or services.  Your customers’ affinity for your brand represents the brand equity in your company.

In the history of business, it’s not hard to find shopkeepers, toolmakers or successful entrepreneurs who have exhibited a knack for identifying what their potential customers wanted in a product or service – and refined it over time. Fiskars began as an ironworks in Finland – 360 years ago.  In its early years, it produced more than 1 million ploughs. Today, it’s a thriving maker of high quality kitchenware, knives and scissors.

While trial and error remains an option for identifying effective brand attributes, customer research and market testing are the most efficient way to identify what your potential customers value the most in the products or services your business provides.

This is the first and most strategic step to develop a powerful brand – and effective marketing.