Maintaining A Positive Public Image When Your Company’s Reputation Is At Risk…

Client: With a better understanding of the issues affecting its industry, a consumer packaging company intends to strengthen its external affairs organization.

Challenge: A consumer packaging company felt that its reputational risks were rising. It had heard the public’s concern about health effects of its products, and faced the same issues as many other multinational corporations in emerging markets, including concerns about environmental sustainability and “digital attacks” on social media. Simultaneously, powerful global forces were reshaping the client’s industry, and evolving policies on taxation and regulation were putting significant value at risk.

Proposal: The client wanted to better understand the key trends and policies, and design a strategy and organizational structure that could help it respond consistently and effectively. ICG Consulting’s team came in to satisfy all of these requests..

Findings: The team began by combining ICG Consulting’s research on the major forces affecting the global industry landscape—such as demographic shifts, environmental issues (i.e. water usage), and the rise of digital communications—with its research on specific trends in consumer packaged goods, such as the billion new middle-class consumers in emerging economies. After conducting interviews with experts from the industry and public sector, the team built a set of detailed scenarios so that the client could identify which priorities should become the focus of its external affairs strategy.

The client quickly realized that broad forces, such as the growth of social media, and industry-specific trends, such as a growing gap in global water demand and supply, should all be part of its external affairs strategy. The strategy would have to be created from scratch, as only operating plans were in place at the time.

We helped the client identify its objectives, and create a new external affairs strategy to better engage with government, regulators, and the public-at-large. This included:

➢  developing statements to support stakeholder engagement locally and globally
➢  focusing on critical issues, such as impending advertising restrictions
➢  helping the client develop clear and closely reasoned stances on public issues, such as water
      management and land use
➢ creating a plan integrating both digital and traditional communications

Once the Corporate Affairs strategy had been defined, the team began to look at the organization that would execute it. ICG Consulting team hosted a three-day workshop featuring internal and external experts in regulatory management, reputational risk, sustainability, and digital communication.

Solution: We recommended that the client set up a new digital media function, charged with monitoring trends and feedback on social networks about the client and the industry, and develop tactics to proactively and effectively engage with stakeholders online. The client was also advised to use the new external affairs function to engage proactively with a wide range of stakeholders.

Result: The company’s board of directors has approved the new external affairs strategy and organization, and implementation is underway. The new strategy drives day-to-day operations. They have taken a proactive stance on the key issues we helped identify, potentially leading to competitive advantage.