Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Communications with Impact in Times of Change

I was saddened to read the story in Today's Globe and Mail about Zellers preparing for the Target takeover.  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/zellers-ceo-rewrites-the-book-on-liquidation/article2220296/

Zellers is the first store I remember going into as a kid, as it was in the mall I cut through on my way to school.  Today, I buy so many of my kids' clothes there as my daughters grow out of clothes or change their mind about them so quickly.  It's Canada's go-to store in most neighbourhood malls.

I have great admiration for Mark Foote, CEO, who realizes that especially in times of change, communications is so important. Granted, he's cutting back on his cost-prohibitive advertising budget.  Instead he's  spending more money on social media - which is sure to hit his target audience - moms looking for a great deal.  As well, he's providing sales incentive and employment transition programs to keep his employees vested.  This is so important for Zellers, especially right now while coming up to the Christmas season.   A happy and vested retail salesperson, combined with great value = a happy customer = repeat sales.

I'm willing to bet Mr. Foote is also focusing on PR since his story is being told so well.  PR is much cheaper than advertising and is the perfect communications vehicle when it's targeted in the right way to the right media at the right time.  If you're looking to build brand awareness and you don't have a topical story to sell (obviously this is not the case for Zellers), be patient.  It might take up to three months to entice the media and sell the story.  But eventually, if it's done properly, your story will be covered.

The point is this - change is reality.  It must be addressed and even embraced one day at a time - no matter how difficult.  And clear concise communications to the people who are being affected is absolutely crucial along the way.

Rachel Pardy
Cahoots Communications Inc.

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