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Welcome to KIS Blog: A taste of local fashion, food & wine and luxe travel

5 Tips for Staying Cool in a PR Crisis

Lauren Zwaans

April wasn’t a good month for one of my clients.

They were defrauded a substantial amount of money through no fault of their own - and banks and the federal police were involved.

Without going into any of the particulars, I will say that I supported this business through the process of attempting to recover the funds. (This is by no means a particular area of expertise for me!).

What this did reinforce to me, however, is the importance of proper crisis management procedures. In their case, it's probably not a scenario they could have envisaged, but there are lots of scenarios that businesses can plan for.

This is particulary true when it comes to PR crisis management.

Having worked for MPs and major brands, I’ve dealt with my share of hostile journalists and marketing departments in crisis. So I thought I’d share a few little pearls of wisdom for staying cool in a PR crisis based on what I’ve learnt.

Keep these tips in mind should your business or company be unfortunate enough to deal with its own PR crisis, and they’ll help see you through.

Stop and breathe
Have you just found out about a PR crisis? Are you being savaged on social media for an ad you didn’t quite think through? Has one of your senior staff behaved badly and now it’s in the public domain? Did your company do something dodgy? (Just look to the big banks for inspiration!).

Your first step is to stop and breathe. Tell the journalist on the phone you’ll call him/ her back. Tell your staff not to say - or post - anything. And call your senior staff together immediately. There’s a sweet spot when it comes to these crises... Take too long to respond and you’ll be criticised. But get the tone of your response wrong, and it’s much harder still to come back from it. So take a moment, or a few hours, to come together with those you trust the most and workshop your response.

Seek advice
You may need legal advice, or seek the advice of a PR company that’s used to handling these sorts of crises. Perhaps you have these skills in-house. If so, call on the teams or individuals with these skills to assist with your decision-making. Seek their support to get the tone - and in some cases the legality - of your response right.

Keep it real
As a consumer, when we’re disappointed in a brand or person, most of us are forgiving when we feel they’re genuinely apologising. Of course, there can be scenarios where you feel you’re not in the wrong at all. You might have been defamed, or the story could be a complete fabrication. In these scenarios keeping it real might involve sticking to your guns and saying “we know these claims are false, we don’t tolerate this kind of behaviour, and we’ll defend ourselves”.

However, if you are in the wrong, a genuine apology delivered swiftly is key. In simple terms, going with a straightforward message - “we messed up and we’re sorry” - is usually best. Last year I wrote an article about Coopers’ collaboration with The Bible Society. It’s a good example of how failing to keep it real initially only makes the fall-out worse.

Make it right
When it comes to these crises, there’s usually two parts to an apology. The first is saying sorry - and the second part is making it right. If you’re a politician whose stuffed up this might involve stepping down from your post (a la Barnaby Joyce). If you’re a company it might involve sacking those in senior roles. We’ve seen this recently when AMP chair Catherine Brenner stepped down following what’s been described as “damning evidence” of misconduct by company staff.

But making it right can also involve much bolder steps. Where a company has been savaged over its environmental credentials, it should consider how these policies can be changed for the better. Where issues with a bad company culture are exposed, the brand should articulate what steps it will take to address these. As Anita Roddick says, “My passionate belief is that business can be fun, it can be conducted with love, and a powerful force for good.” Increasingly, consumers are loyal to brands that make good global citizens, so consider how your brand can resurrect its image post-crisis, and prove you intend to be a brand with a global conscience that’s driven by more than just profit.

Remember, this too will pass
Finally, while the relentless 24-hour news and social media cycle can spur on your shitstorm, remember that in the vast majority of cases, that storm will pass. Just like Fawkes the Phoenix (sorry, I had to throw in a Harry Potter reference for Gen Ys), brands too can emerge from the ashes and be reborn. Plus there’s always rebranding (there’s almost nothing I love more!), so it could be an opportunity for a fresh name and image too!

So when crises hit, remember to stop and breathe, seek the advice of experts, keep it real and genuine when you do respond, and consider how you can really make it right.

I’ll do well to remember my own advice the next time I’m supporting a brand or person through their own PR crisis too. After all, no-one's perfect!

Need crisis management training? KIS offers tailored training for companies and individuals, so get in touch at

Image: ABC

5 E-Newsletter Fails - And How to Fix Them

Lauren Zwaans

The humble e-newsletter might seem a tad outdated in a world where we're increasingly focused on SEO and remarketing campaigns, but it still has a place in your marketing tool kit.

For one, it’s a small investment. And, unlike many platforms where you have no control over your reach, email is free.

You’re also engaging with a captive audience that already knows your brand.

WakeCreative marketer Dennis Michael says e-newsletters are important because you have your audience’s attention. After all, they’re choosing to open and read your mail at a time that’s convenient for them.

“There is no other form of marketing that will be as effective,” Michael says.

However, if you’re anything like me, your email is probably inundated each day.

So how can you avoid people pressing the “delete” button on your email, or worse, the “unsubscribe” button?

Here, I’ve covered five common e-newsletter fails - and ways to fix them to ensure you’re making the most of your captive audience and reaching as many of them as possible!


Fail #1: Outdated Branding
It sounds simple, but if you’re a business on a budget - or just plain busy - it won’t take long for your branding to look outdated.

The solution: Refine your branding and communications at least every two years to ensure your designs look contemporary. If you’re not a graphics whiz and a natural marketer, outsource this work to ensure your look and feel is modern, and your branding is well suited to your target audience.

Fail #2: Getting the Frequency Wrong
I’m the first to admit I’m guilty of this myself at times, but being disciplined about the frequency of your communications is key. Respect your readers and don’t overdo it by sending too many emails, or too few!

The solution: Adopt a quality over quantity approach to emails - and their content. Schedule in your emails and stick to this schedule where possible.

Fail #3: No Additional Value
Value-adds in your emails are essential. Your email subscribers represent your core customers - and they should be honoured accordingly. Long, wordy emails, and emails that focus too heavily on you rather than the customer, are a major fail.

The solution: Include exclusive promotions and special offers in your emails to improve customer retention. Above all, ensure campaigns are customer-focused.

Fail #4: Not monitoring your email hits
If you’re not monitoring your hits and cultivating your database, you can’t adjust your campaigns based on their performance.

The solution: Ensure you’re checking campaign analytics. Even most free tools offer these insights. Question what campaigns work better than others, and the reasons behind that. This could have to do with the timing of your email blast, or the content itself, so experiment with both and develop a strategy. Don’t forget to also grow your list by giving customers every opportunity to opt in.

Fail #5: No call to action
Failing to include a strong call to action, whether it’s as simple as ‘Shop Now’ or ‘Find out more’, is the worst mistake you can make. You need to make it as easy as possible for consumers to buy your products or engage your services.

The solution: Ensure you’re clear on your call to action before you start. If your email is slightly longer, include multiple calls to action throughout. Make these short and clear; bright buttons often work best.

Happy mailing!

The Latest Facebook Changes - and how Your Business will be Affected

Lauren Zwaans

Last week Facebook announced a big shake up to News Feed. Posting on the social media platform, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook would focus more on its original goal of bringing people together, with a new algorithm prioritising posts from friends ahead of “businesses, brands and media”.

So in a nutshell the new algorithm will prioritise posts from friends over pages, and favour “meaningful content” - the key being content that generates discussion.

Make no mistake, the change has serious implications for all sorts of businesses, but especially those that may not have the time or budget to invest in Facebook advertising, and those that have not yet built large communities of followers.

The Guardian cites that in Guatemala, one of the testing countries for the new feed, some journalists reported that readership halved overnight. Jonathan Vanian, writing for, contends that “Online advertisers and businesses that distribute marketing through the news feed will face similar challenges as the news industry”.

So how can you weather the newest Facebook algorithm storm?

 Some have claimed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's announcement is akin to " blowing up Facebook from the inside ". Image:  

Some have claimed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's announcement is akin to "blowing up Facebook from the inside". Image: 

1. Pay for Advertising
It’s the obvious one, but your free reach will be more limited, so paying for advertising is going to be part of the equation if you want to reach your market through Facebook. This is especially true if you’re publishing links to content that will lead people away from Facebook. The message now is you’ll have to pay to do that.

But using Facebook Business Manager effectively takes training. Ensure you undertake training, or outsource to people who are experienced with Business Manager to best target your audience. Techniques such as ads that can utilise your database to target “lookalike" audiences with similar demographics and interests are extremely useful.

2. Go Live or Go Home
Zuckerberg has gone so far as to predict that one day everything on Facebook may be video, so the imperative to start filming is there. We know that videos generate the “meaningful interaction” that Facebook is referring to, so it makes sense to go live.

I’m a major live video resistor myself, so I feel your pain! However, we know live video generates six times more interactions than regular videos, so going live is a complete no brainer and an essential strategy for your business in 2018. 

3. Be Meaningful
Across the board, your content needs to be more meaningful - and generating comments and discussion is key. As social media expert Steve Dillon explains, “everything that you do on Facebook … must be designed to evoke a meaningful interaction - ideally in the form of a considered comment - from your audience.” So ditch sales content in favour of content that helps and really adds value for your followers.

4. Diversify
Whether you have the money to invest in the above, or you don’t, diversifying your communications strategy is essential. If a Facebook page is the extent of your social media effort to date, it’s time to look at other platforms for your business.

Need support with your social media strategy in 2018? KIS can help. Contact to find out more.