Steering Through the Storm: Can AI assist?

Authored by Shivaram Lakshminarayan, COO, Ruder Finn IndiaIn the age of instant information, crises can erupt and spread like wildfire. While speed will always be a critical denominator, evaluating all possible scenarios, its impact and outcomes cannot be ignored. A single misstep, a misinterpreted tweet, or a product malfunction can trigger a PR nightmare with lasting consequences for the brand and its customers. In this high-stakes environment, effective crisis communication is no longer a luxury—it's a necessity.Traditionally, crisis communications relied on carefully drafted press statements, well-orchestrated conferences, and television interviews to control the narrative and minimize negative publicity. This deliberate and controlled approach allowed organizations to prepare detailed statements and ensure accurate representation through direct outreach to journalists.In today’s data-driven world, AI enabled algorithms enable corporates to predict audience sentiments, their triggers and preempt any possible fallouts, which is particularly useful for identifying gaps before they become full-blown crises. AI has become a very useful tool for navigating crises enabling organizations to craft targeted messages, optimize response strategies, and mitigate damage effectively.The Power of Real-Time Data in Gauging Public SentimentIn any crisis, time is of the essence. Those of us in corporate communications and reputation management must always stay prepared. At all times. For anything. And we must be truthful and authentic in our narrative. Trying to "spin" the story for journalists, industry stakeholders, community leaders, or elected officials in the face of tragedies is futile.The advent of social media has transformed crisis communication. Organizations must now respond quickly and transparently to address issues and engage with stakeholders online. Managing real-time conversations and rapidly spreading information demands proactive and responsive communication efforts.Given the scenario, one of the most significant advantages of analytics in crisis communication lies in its ability to provide real-time insights into public sentiment. Social media platforms have become the primary battleground for crisis narratives.Tools like social media listening platforms allow organizations to monitor conversations, identify emerging trends, and understand how the public perceives the crisis. For instance, during a recent product recall, a company used social media analytics to identify a prominent blogger who was spreading misinformation. By promptly reaching out and providing accurate information, the company was able to prevent the misinformation from gaining traction and minimize potential damage.Crisis Prediction: Moving Beyond Reactive ResponsesCrisis communication has traditionally been reactive, but analytics enables a proactive approach. Predictive analytics analyze historical data to identify patterns signaling potential crises and enhance preparedness by examining past crises, customer sentiment, and weather patterns, allowing organizations to build early warning systems.In addition, analytics aids resource allocation by identifying likely needed resources, ensuring their availability. This proactive approach minimizes delays and streamlines crisis response. It can further help simulate crisis scenarios and test communication strategies, allowing organizations to refine messaging and identify weaknesses before a real crisis occurs.Moreover, a one-size-fits-all approach to crisis communication rarely works. Analytics empowers organizations to tailor their messages to the needs and concerns of specific demographics, transforming data into meaningful insights.Measuring the Impact: Learning from ExperienceAnalyzing past product failures, customer complaints, and market trends can help predict future issues that might lead to a crisis. Regular data analysis on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis reveals patterns and highlights significant coverage.While daily media coverage assessment can spot notable mentions, it can also lead to information overload and hinder PR teams. Stepping back to view long-term data helps identify the most important trends. For example, a social media spike may seem significant, but closer analysis might reveal it originates from a single, insignificant source. This detailed examination helps pinpoint truly important and actionable information.Analytics tools like SONAR are revolutionizing risk management. Now in its fifth iteration, our AI-powered SONAR platform simulates hyper-realistic crisis situations, enabling clients to test their preparedness. With interactive features, it identifies areas of concern for pre-emptive planning and proposes practical solutions. Multi-lingual, SONAR can simulate scenarios for single markets or global teams of up to 100 people, enhancing crisis planning effectiveness. The platform empowers organizations to identify planning gaps and propose practical, workable, real-world solutions and mitigate risks and respond swiftly.??The Way ForwardIn today’s fast-paced world, where crises can escalate in moments, analytics is indispensable. From early detection and real-time monitoring to data-driven decision-making, targeted messaging, and post-crisis evaluation, analytics provides the necessary tools to navigate perceptions and to protect reputation. Organizations leveraging analytics can better manage crises, customer experiences and emerge stronger. As technology evolves, analytics will play an even more integral role, driving innovation and better preparedness for the future.

Ruder Finn India appoints Shivaram Lakshminarayan as the Chief Operations Office

Ruder Finn India, the Integrated Communications Consultancy, today announced the appointment of Shivaram Lakshminarayan as the Chief Operations Officer, reinforcing its commitment to strategic growth and operational excellence. Based out of the Bangalore office, Shivaram will play a pivotal role in driving business growth and operational excellence for the organization. This dynamic role involves leading client solutions, spearheading new business development, collaborating closely with the practices, and optimizing operational efficiencies. Commenting on the appointment, Atul Sharma, CEO, Ruder Finn India and Head, Middle East said, “Shiv brings with him extensive experience across technology and corporate communications. With this appointment, we have further solidified our India leadership team to provide effective solutions for our clients and expand our operations in the country. Having witnessed Shiv's energy and expertise in action before, I am thrilled to have him on board. Together, we're set to amplify our success story in India and bring forth some exciting new chapters.” With a wealth of industry experience spanning over 21 years, Shivaram’s expertise lies in brand reputation, corporate communications, leadership positioning, employee communications, investor relations, issues and crisis management, as well as policy and government relations. In his previous assignment, he successfully built and managed teams nationwide, collaborating with global leadership, growing practices, while streamlining SOPs and SLAs for clients and teams. Reflecting on his new role as the Chief Operations Officer, Ruder Finn India, Shivaram Lakshminarayan added, "As I step into the shoes of Chief Operations Officer at Ruder Finn India, I'm genuinely excited about being part of this dynamic team. I’ve seen Ruder Finn India’s growing at a phenomenal pace in the last five years and today, I’m very excited to get an opportunity to be a part of this amazing growth story. In this role I look forward to taking Ruder Finn India to newer heights with the talented teams here, leveraging their expertise and experience to come up with great solutions for our clients."