Wellington.Scoop »New Zealand’s Toughest PR Challenges


Press Release – BlacklandPR
The COVID-19 traffic light system has been identified as the country’s toughest public relations gig for 2021, according to consultancy Wellington Blackland PR.

COVID-19 challenges dominated the rankings, accounting for half of the top 10. Vaccines and blockages from Delta were the second and third highest challenges.

“It has been a particularly difficult year for those responsible for communicating the government’s response to the pandemic. Communicating the traffic light system, vaccines and delta blockages were some of the most difficult public relations challenges imaginable – you wouldn’t wish them on your enemy, “said Nick Gowland, public relations manager for Blackland.

“Each got a near-perfect storm score for audience profile, emotional response, impact and complexity.

“The thorny of these challenges reflects the fact that most of the government’s pandemic responses are innovative. That means anticipating five million different reactions and finding ways to persuade each person to understand and implement the traffic light system, get vaccinated, or obey blockades.

“The traffic light system was the most difficult because it impacted New Zealanders’ decision-making regarding personal health, who, how and where they socialize with others and, for many businesses, which customers they may have in their premises.

“Deep psychological factors are also at play. It is very difficult to communicate complex policies and science when people fear for their health, family and friends.

BlacklandPR uses a scoring system that ranks issues out of 10 for four factors: impact (how many people are consciously affected directly or indirectly), profile (media coverage and “parability” in daily life), emotion (the intensity of the emotional reaction), and complexity (complications and technical aspects of the problem).

In previous years, BlacklandPR’s list of public relations challenges has been driven by events such as Roastbusters, the Fonterra botulism issue, the flag referendum, and the capital gains tax.

A year of complex problems with unclear responsibilities

Mr Gowland said the year marked the first time that public, political and media response to a large number of high-impact incidents had been dampened by awareness of their complexity.

“Wood shortages, cyber attacks and blackouts were notable issues for the year. All of these problems arise from a multitude of factors.

“This year, organizations were released from responsibility for events for which they would previously have been seriously blamed – because people were better prepared to understand and forgive. This was probably in large part due to the fact that Covid has sapped the energy and attention of most of us.

“The September cyber attacks destroyed websites, applications and online transaction systems for many banks and financial services companies across the country. On social media, customers were anxious but didn’t get a lot of information. Most of these organizations could not admit that they were victims of a cyber attack and instead turned the blame to CERT NZ.

Mr Gowland said Blackland expanded the list of PR challenges to illustrate how problems are rarely black and white issues.

“While we are happy to see the end of the blame game. We are concerned that the ability to evade responsibility could leave voters, consumers and the public very frustrated. “

Problems quickly disappear from people’s memories

The intensity of people’s emotional reactions to Covid-19 and the volume of decisions communicated by the government caused other issues that would normally rank high to be hidden from people’s attention.

“In a typical year, the March Waikato DHB cyberattack would rank number one on our annual list. It has generated enormous public interest during the many weeks it has crippled medical services in the region. But it quickly faded from people’s attention as even bigger Covid news replaced it.

“The same can be said with the attempts to partially sell the All Blacks in the first quarter of this year. It is an emblematic national institution. A lot of people had an opinion on it back then but, despite the problem which is not solved, few are talking about it now. “

New Zealand’s toughest public relations challenges 2021

Rank Challenge Who for Profile Impact Emotion Complexity Total
1 Announcement and implementation of the Covid-19 traffic light system (including vaccination mandates for business owners in ‘high risk’ settings) Government ten ten ten ten 40
2 Supply, deployment and mandates of COVID-19 vaccines on border, health and education personnel Government ten 9 ten ten 39
3 Management of the August Delta containment Government ten ten 9 8 37
4 Responding to a Cyber ​​Ransomware Attack Waikato DHB ten seven 8 9 34
5 3 Water consultation and municipal reviews Government seven ten 6 9 32
6 MIQ – criticism of injustice, safety and the launch of the MIQ lottery system Government 9 6 ten 6 31
seven Management of Iwi control points Government seven 5 9 9 30
8 Responding to August power outages Genesis 8 seven seven seven 29
9 Managing wood shortages and price increases Building and construction retail chains 8 9 6 5 28
ten Publication of the final opinion to the government – Ināia Tonu Nei Commission on Climate Change 8 5 5 9 27
11 Stabbing Response in New Lynn Mall, Auckland Government 9 3 seven seven 26
11 Response to Groundswell protests Government 9 3 9 5 26
11 Announcement of taxation with discount of electric vehicles Government 8 5 seven 6 26
11 Bulle Trans-Tasman – announcement and closure Government 9 3 8 6 26
15 Sale of commercial operations in Silver Lake New Zealand Rugby seven 4 seven seven 25
15 Responding to dDOS cyberattacks Banks, New Zealand Post and Financial Services Companies 6 8 6 5 25
15 Response to critical ministerial report on child restraint systems Oranga Tamariki 6 2 seven ten 25
18 August power outages Transpower 8 6 3 seven 24
18 Announcement to make hate speech a crime Government seven 3 6 8 24
20 Advertising on nitrate management on farms Fonterra 4 2 9 8 23
20 Fall in the share price, departure of executives A2 milk 8 3 5 seven 23

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