By Harriet Swatman Manassa (4 minute read).

Australian aged care providers are aware of the impact of this year’s Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Most providers will already have been involved in giving evidence to the Commission and may be preparing to deal with responses and feedback.

Media attention on providers in the sector will be intense from the start of preliminary hearings and have warned that, for some operators, the scrutiny will be brutal. It is expected that the inquiry will generate more media interest and take up more space than the previous banking and finance commissions, producing more visual, affecting and potentially damaging coverage.

Programs like Four Corners used evidence from smart phones and the coverage of the Royal Commission may take a similar tack. Storms may build quickly, giving providers little time to prepare a response.

In the light of the impact the Royal Commission may have on reputations, our message to our aged care clients and contacts is to start preparing as early as possible.

We believe that the old saying ‘if you don’t plan, then plan to fail’ holds true. Effective organisations:

  1. Think about the eventualities
  2. Assign roles and responsibilities within their teams and
  3. Prepare for different levels of stakeholder and/ or media questioning.

We recommend providers prepare material for media and for communicating with their stakeholders, communication which reviews their submissions to the Royal Commission and uses relevant customer feedback, case studies, comments or opinions. They will need to think through and prepare answers for the wide range of questions that may come from customers, families, stakeholders in the wider community or interested media.

We also advise providers to decide on their spokespeople, working out who will speak on behalf of the organisation as a whole and who will speak about individual case histories or care policies.

It is important organisations choose spokespeople carefully and review their capacities. Some questions worth considering are whether the chosen spokespeople get nervous, how they feel in front of a camera or in a group of angry people and what their body language is like under pressure- as well as the things they will want to say.

We know that planning gives organisations concrete procedures to follow and information to use but we have also seen that – psychologically- planning gives organisations a higher level of awareness and confidence when working with the media.

At Edmonds Marketing we have many years’ experience of working with the media and developing stakeholder communication strategies. We interact with different media on a regular basis, placing spokespeople for interview, developing content for digital media, placing advertising and advertorial and working up editorial with journalists.

At the moment, we run media preparation workshops, helping organisations gather the material they need to think through and running through best- and worst-case scenarios.

Our workshops help clients prepare to handle both low level stakeholder and media enquiries and a more intense period of scrutiny. We review key messages, help identify spokespeople and assess whether individuals will need any extra training to guide being interviewed on camera.

After a workshop we typically prepare detailed media or crisis plans to ensure clients feel ready to protect their reputation in any eventuality.

If you would like to discuss how your organisation can prepare for a storm, please contact Edmonds Marketing on 07 3175 9905.

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