A good communications strategy is worthless if it can’t be backed up by action, particularly in a time of crisis.
The Australian Defence Force’s recent outreach into the Pacific – Indo Pacific Endeavour 2018 – highlighted the importance of being able to deliver on a promise.
Among the key messages were the importance of country-to-country relationships that exist at several levels and that Australia stands ready to do whatever it can to help its neighbours in their times of need.
Crises come in all shapes and sizes and generally at the most inopportune time.
During the port visit to the Solomon’s capital, Honiara, an official request was made for assistance after a violent incident on a remote island 200 kilometres away: one child was dead and four other people had been critically injured.
Despite the challenges involved in such a risky mission (distance, over water, limited fuel supplies, potential for violence), the operation was given the go ahead.
Two helicopters with medical teams and Solomon Islands police officers on board set off. The situation was fraught and only through the incredible skills of all those involved was the mission able to be completed safely and successfully – several of the injured are most likely only alive today due to the efforts of the air crew and medical teams.
The Solomon Islands Prime Minister expressed his personal gratitude for the efforts of the ADF and the story was front page news in local newspapers for several days afterwards.
There is an important lesson out of this situation for all organisations – big or small, private or public.
You must be able to match your words to your deeds.
We’ve seen many examples in recent times where companies have failed to live up to the promises they’ve made; consequently, they’ve paid a heavy price financially and reputationally.
But if you pull out all stops to honour the commitments contained in your well thought-out communications’ strategy people will notice, your reputation will be enhanced and – because actions speak louder than words – you will gain a, not insignificant, advantage over your competitors.