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SABMiller

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How did one of the world’s largest brewers prepare for a worst-case scenario? We staged a crisis to help senior managers develop an effective stakeholder communications strategy.

SABMiller was founded in 1895, and became one of the world’s largest brewers, operating in more than eighty countries across six continents. In 2014, they asked us to design and run an interactive training programme that would both challenge and develop the decision-making, strategic thinking and communication skills of twenty-two senior managers when faced with a PR crisis.
We simulated a series of strategic and tactical challenges for SABMiller in ‘Alcovia’, our fictitious Central European country developed specially for training clients in crisis communications, which posed a major threat to the business and brand.
Our scenario centred on a culture of irresponsible drinking in Alcovia, a problem that was further complicated by widespread trade in counterfeit beer. The story unfolded through various channels, including TV reports, newspaper headlines and Twitter feeds. We brought in professional actors to play the roles of stakeholders including government ministers, industry representatives and anti-alcohol campaigners.

We ensured that delegates were stretched to their limits by introducing three more challenges as the day unfolded, each one necessitating a change in approach.
Throughout the session the delegates were supported by our experienced faculty of coaches, who guided and challenged them to develop and implement a successful crisis communications strategy.

By the end of the day, SABMiller’s senior managers had received a complete, real-time experience of engaging with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders. They understood the value of direct and empathetic engagement in a timely manner, and gained a new awareness of channels they could use to positively influence the media narrative.
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