Crisis Communications & Issues Management

Convergence has a broad range of skills and resources at its disposal to support clients in the event of a crisis.

We have the structure, resources and, in particular, extensive experience managing communications during crises that might have national and international repercussions for the companies and other organisations involved.

Over the years, our team of senior practitioners has built a solid reputation for being a very safe pair of hands to handle public relations crises that threaten business reputation and continuity.

It’s not just the actual management of a public relations crisis in which we excel, we work at the prevention and mitigation end, too. To help companies put systems in place so they are ready to handle a crisis, we can advise on risk analysis and mitigation planning, best practise with regards to communications involving emergency services, and training key personnel most likely to front to media in such situations.

Within the context of an adverse event, Convergence’s core team of full-time account managers, including five former journalists, is complemented by another three journalism-trained, part-time consultants. Three Convergence partners have also completed training in the internationally recognised government and emergency services Crisis Intervention Management Systems (CIMS). One of our partners has (in the course of being ‘Head of Profession – Communications’ for the State Services Commission) worked at the very highest level, leading communications work on the National Crisis Communications Plan for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Testimonial

Convergence was co-winner of the Supreme award in the 2012 New Zealand Public Relations Awards for the consultancy’s work with the Student Volunteer Army following the devastating February 2011 earthquake. The quake was the most devastating shake to ever strike a city in a first world country, causing nearly 200 deaths, and resulted in the demolition of more than 6000 homes and most of the city’s central business district.

Communications is essential to the success of recovery efforts following a crisis situation. Convergence helped us send clear, concise messages through the media to the general public to source supplies, locate volunteer work, keep volunteers motivated and inform the public of our systems. The Convergence team helped us achieve local, national and international media coverage and develop long-term relationships with both the media and governmental agencies and representatives.” – Sam Johnson, Founder, Student Volunteer Army.

Our team has managed crisis PR responses for Convergence clients (and for employers prior to joining Convergence) that include the following:

  • Representing Scenic Hotel Group in its management of media attention associated with a defamation case against Labour Party leader Andrew Little
  • Supporting the new owners of Stonewood Homes (the country’s third largest group home builder) as the company completes the construction of houses for nearly 200 homeowners left highly distressed by the earlier receivership and subsequent liquidation process
  • Led communications work on the National Crisis Communications Plan for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Co-ordinated all media enquiries on behalf of the Student Volunteer Army following the Canterbury Earthquakes (resulting in a national PR award)
  • Worked closely with an Auckland PR expert to provide the all-important local perspective on the collapse of AMI Insurance, ultimately working direct with AMI’s management team, Treasury, IAG and Southern Response – the government-owned entity set up to manage resolution of all earthquake claims by AMI policy holders
  • Led Westland Milk Products’ (New Zealand’s second largest dairy co-operative) public relations response to the blackmail threat to contaminate infant formula with 1080, and was also involved in the development of pan-industry input into the Government response to the 1080 threat
  • Worked with the engineer still being investigated for his potential role in the collapse of the CTV building during the February 2011 earthquake
  • Managed the University of Canterbury’s social media and digital communications with students and staff following the Canterbury earthquakes
  • Managed media responses to industrial accidents and deaths at client workplaces that include Lyttelton Port Company and Skellerup Industries
  • Advised on the communications response to withdrawal of a fertiliser product by Ravensdown when traces were detected in milk samples
  • Input into Westland Milk’s response to its international customers following several major food safety events within the NZ dairy industry
  • Managed numerous contaminated food and faulty product recall PR programmes for clients ranging from Whitestone Cheese to Goldair
  • Co-ordinated a joint community-level response by Holcim and Lyttelton Port Company to an incident where clinker dust spread over the town and hardened on homes and vehicles
  • Managed media responses to several farmer-related animal harm / neglect issues for Westland Milk Products
  • Three weeks into the Pike River Mining disaster, took over media co-ordination for Pike River Mining
  • Managed West Coast DHB’s response to the Pike River coal mine disaster
  • Managed the Department of Conservation’s media response to the Cave Creek platform collapse disaster
  • Managed media associated with a PGG Wrightson Seeds cultivar issue that killed hundreds of cows in Southland, and advised the company with regards to communications with farmers designed to ensure they followed the recommended farming practices that would have prevented the deaths
  • Managed media responses to two fires at Ravensdown plants, in Dunedin and Invercargill
  • Managed media interest in numerous patient care-related issues for West Coast DHB, including complex, high profile medical issues referred to the Health Quality and Disability Commissioner that attracted national media coverage.