The portal – a high-profile start-up that had attracted millions of dollars in funding – suffered because it had grown too fast in an unstructured manner. It had found itself embroiled in many controversies because of very public spats the founder had had with the media and funders. Much of the leadership team communicated with the media ad hoc, there were no spokespersons identified and there was little thought given to institutionalised messaging or media strategy. There was absolutely no thought or system to the communications process.

Strategy and execution

  • Step 1: Deep-dive perception audit among all stakeholders: the media, employees and business partners
  • Step 2: Sustained one-on-engagement with the leadership team to understand their vision of the company, followed by a exercise for them to collaboratively arrive at a vision for the firm and to ensure they were all on the same page.
  • Step 3: Prepared a messaging house for the firm, which became the Bible for communication for all spokespersons.
  • Step 4: Put in place a communications head and assessed the resources available. Streamlined the team and ensured it was aligned with the rest of the firm. This included an assessment of the existing public relations agencies and the expectations from it
  • Step 5: Intensive media training of the CEO
  • Step 6: Re-engaging the media to rebuild relationships, and to establish a thought leadership position for the portal and the CEO
  • Step 7: Established a milestones and communications calendar that was adhered to by all departments, resulting in structured communication, designated spokespersons and effective dispensation of the firm’s key messages. This included a media plan and supervision of the agency
  • Step 8: Put in place a crisis communications system and messages


  • Functioning communications department aligned with the rest of the firm
  • Effective systems and processes that resulted in positive, controlled communication
  • Recreated the image of the firm and the CEO in the eyes of the media and other stakeholders – funders, employees, customers and business partners
  • A crisis-ready firm