Like most days, March 15th, 2019 also saw me alongside Abby working on Bushman Tours’ website design. Nothing different really. In the office down the corridor of our shared office, were the RiskLogic team, who were also my largest contract at the time.
As we slowly worked from some pretty bland work, Abby was scrolling on Snapchat until she froze and in a haunting, calm voice said to me, “there has been a terrorist attack in Christchurch”.
My first reaction, like many Kiwis (and if not the world), was that obviously this was rubbish. There is no way in a million years our quiet, beautiful city would have such a thing. There is also no way the universe would continue to curse our region like this. But, it was true.
After rushing into the RiskLogic office, we sat and began setting up a crisis room to monitor the situation. I quickly went from my Fixinc, Bushman Tours work to RiskLogic, consulting work. Our first reaction was to contact family, friends and then clients – specifically education clients. It was a mess, but most people were doing well.
Four or five hours passed in that tight crisis room until we decided it was time to head home and have a wine. It was all we talked about.
By Monday the 18th, we all drooped back into the RiskLogic office, probably still in shock. But, we had a job to do and we had to figure out how to support our client base now. The challenge here was not to be seen as ambulance chasers. For a brand like RiskLogic, that’s extremely hard to do when all they do is support organisations before and after events like this. It’s literally our job to be a part of these sorts of events.
A few days passed where me, Brad (the Country Manager) and the CEO continued to map out a plan. By day five, we’d agreed to let people just adjust to this. Ultimately, the event was over, but the human impact was about to begin; that’s what we’d support.
So, I took Brad downstairs and got him to do this video:
Bear in mind, this was the last version of four. We’d tried one version in the smart office, with multiple angles, cut away scenes and all sorts only to realise we were overcooking this. What people needed was a credible, strong face.
That Friday, one week later, we noticed the market was beginning to turn. People were just refusing to come into work around the city. Our Junior Resilience Specialists were now in town for training. They’d come from Australia for scheduled training with Brad, but this quickly turned into a real-life example trip.
On this day, we’d decided to release our IP and I built this web page as a resource. This decision came after very challenging conversations where no hierarchy came into play; it was all about what’s best for New Zealanders. We had to accept that this is what we do, people can ignore it or embrace it. If we’re seen as ambulance chasers then fine, but it was my job to reduce that.
How I reduced the impact to the brand
We decided to take two approaches: assist organisations with lockdown templates and help the schools. So, we released our Free Resource IP on lockdown and active shooter templates.
From a website point of view, it slingshot risklogic.co.nz into a Google ranking-first place spot, next to the Civil Defence and Government websites. I ensured I was studying the keywords and what people were searching for almost hourly. Lockdown being an obvious one, I didn’t want just average Joes downloading them, they were for organisations. So I focused on what CEOs, Director and resilience experts might be searching.
I pivoted out Google Adwords to put vast budgets into the downloadable assets. (You could download them straight from the ad). I then built a form in front of the assets for two reasons; to collect the details of the user to offer more support if they needed it and, to ensure they were New Zealanders.
When completing that form, they’d get an automated email from Hubspot about 24 hours later asking if they needed any help. There was a link direct to Brad’s calender and, there was a lifecycle sequence set up to ensure the right people (those in big trouble) were getting the attention they needed.
The important thing here, everything was automated.
If you can set up automated marketing and sales sequences in an event like this – or better yet have them ready to go – then you’ll win.
In six months, RiskLogic had over a few hundred downloads of these assets from organisations and schools. Great, but I wasn’t done.
How we supported the schools
The most delicate subject were schools and children. I was disappointed to see these cowboys pop up who were suddenly lockdown experts. One consultant put children into a lockdown exercise, face down, for 45 minutes. Talk about reliving the experience, arsehole.
My reporting Director, Marcus Vaughan requested that I lead this. He wanted me, “no matter what” to find a way to be the first to offer help to the education sector. Even ahead of the Ministry of Education (MOE), who, in my opinion, were too slow to react.
After the MOE commissioned an auditing firm (KPMG) to conduct a review of the attack and all schools – which would have cost them tens of thousands of dollars – we decided to act on that report instantly. In one day, with help from my colleague, I’d found over 1,000 New Zealand schools email addresses. Again, using Hubspot, I set up a sequence to invite them to the downloadable assets as well as a webinar we were now setting up.
In typical fashion, and one thing I love about RiskLogic, we sat in a circle to bounce ideas on the whiteboard.
“How do we make an impact here and really prove our credibility to the industry?” I ask the team. “Who is the face of this attack for the schools right now? Who is everyone focused on?”.
Principle Blair Dravinski.
Blair was front and centre for his Linwood School and the industry, being so close to the Mosque, he was on the news almost daily. A big man, larger than life personality and genuine love for his work, he was our guy.
After a cool, calm and collect call from Brad, we were in Blair’s office talking to him about the webinar concept. In typical Blair response, he was in.
As I developed the webinar, it became clear everyone was expecting me to host it. My first! So, bringing in the Principle Consultant in Australia, Cheryl Hambly, we conducted a 30-minute webinar with Q&A. With my marketing efforts, we’d managed to book it out. We even had members from the MOE tune in (including the CFO). Interesting.
One year on
I believe that this event showed the world how strong and influential our Prime Minister is (whether you like her policies or not). It showed the world that as a nation we love all people, no matter the religion. As a marketer, I was put to the test to release content that had to be sensitive and timely – not looking for the next sale.
Ultimately, we did make commercial success out of this. You’d hope we did considering this is all we do at RiskLogic. But the percentage was mostly obligatory support to public schools and teachers – which felt amazing, we helped people think about the right processes for their people. Not long after the webinar, I released a four-part series of whitepapers for the schools. Free and full of content and advice pulled from all the Senior Consultants, these were private only to the schools.
Although those assets didn’t make us any specific sales, it did put us as the highest-ranking website and provider to resilience service – especially for the education sector. We were providing more content and ranking higher than the Ministry of Education, all because they weren’t reacting quick enough.
After twelve months, we released another round up video with Cheryl and Brad. It took some effort this thing due to the size of the files, but it was worth reminding people as a brand, we’re here and we’re still on top of this, despite the chaos of COVID-19.
No matter what area your business is in, you must take a moment to assess the opportunity and the risks. If RiskLogic went straight into “click here for a free asset for only $2,000” the day after the event, we could have been eaten alive, instead, we carefully gave away extensive and unique IP (even competitors downloaded it). When an event occurs or an opportunity presents itself, you must have decided prior how you want your brand to appear in the market; bold, proud and loud, or available and calm. Because either one can be the make or break to where you are today.