Cannes Lions

TELE2 Lithuania Roaming Crisis Communication Campaign

PUBLICUM GROUP, Vilnius / TELE2 / 2019

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Overview

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Credits

Overview

Background

On 3 August 2018, the Lithuanian telecommunications sector experienced largest crisis in a decade – 40000 customers of the leading operator lost connection while abroad. Following system upgrading by the roaming partner of the operator, customers abroad could neither receive and make calls nor send SMS and connect to the Internet. The failure occurred at the worst moment – the peak holiday month of Lithuanians and before the weekend.

When failure became known, main goals were set: prevention and control of potential communication crisis, sustaining customers' trust and protecting operator's image. Attempts were made to inform travelling customers and their relatives at home, and to be the main information source of all national media channels. Therefore, it was decided to make a public announcement about the failure before knowing its outcome or cause, and to reach various media channels and keep them informed about every new step of the operator.

Idea

A public announcement about the roaming failure was made once the failure was confirmed by the IT engineering team, but before the news started spreading in the national mass media and without waiting for explanations from the partner responsible for the failure, i.e. without knowing possible duration of the failure, and the number of affected customers. The main goal in this situation was to sustain customers' trust, to be and to remain the primary source thus ensuring that mass media refer to the information received from representatives, thus preventing speculations and distortion of facts. For this reason, the operator's apologies and the first message about the failure were published not as a press release but as a post on Facebook account of the communication director and ambassador of the operator – it was decided that more journalists of the country will be reached faster this way.

Strategy

There was no time for planning communication, it had to be done here and now; no clear answers from the partner about roaming restoration and outcome strongly narrowed potential public information. Affected customers cared about the end not the cause of the failure. With no positive news in hand, it was decided to assume the guilt and apologise and to offer the only solution within the company’s control –compensations to affected customers.

The crucial audience was affected customers, their relatives at home and incapable of contacting them and representatives of different media groups.

The affected operator had the largest share of mobile communication customers in the country – of different age, gender, educational background; reaching this diverse audience required involvement of the national media.

Employment of various information means: news continuously supplied to the television, radio, news portals, live and remote interviews of operator’s representatives, continuous messages on social networks.

Execution

In line with direct duties of traditional communication with media, PR representatives exchanged messages with journalists on Facebook. This method, not used very frequently by corporations, was chosen to reach journalists immediately – Facebook is the most popular social network in Lithuania, and only journalists on duty are at work on weekends. The first failure message was posted in social media before it appeared in the media. PR agency spread communications to news portals, television and radio, the affected companies of the same operator abroad. Social network agency responded to posts on the operator’s official social network pages to announce the latest news to the affected customers and their relatives. On 5 August, less than 2 days after the failure began, the operator's apology, situation clarification and compensation information news about the end of the failure appeared on all largest national news portals, in the weekend's news on radio and

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