5 Tips for successful Mining Communications
As a service provider to the mining industry in Africa for over a decade, we’ve learned a great deal. Working on the continent presents its own challenges – and wins. Here are our Top 5 tips for mining communication teams.
TIP 1: Make time for time
Infrastructure, weather, pandemics and political instability mean you have no control over time. Supply Chain has their work cut out for them!
Allow sufficient time for your collateral and Capex (signage, uniforms, campaigns etc.) and then we recommend that allow additional time to account for the inevitable, unforeseen circumstances.
The Marketing department often isn’t given much time for planning the mining collateral, so remember to train your internal team on marketing best practices and timings. Halo Media work with mining communication teams to identify issues and create solutions for making requests of the mining communications team. The solutions can include:
- Understanding the nature of the requests and who is issuing them
- Creating categories for priorities and assigning lead times for these categories
- A bespoke online system that allows for requests to be made; tracking of these requests (which allows for more accountability on both sides); a calendar of planned events and an asset library.
By working through systems to streamline requests, it saves the mining communications team time and money and allows for a better allocation of resources.
TIP 2: Select the right Mining Communications support team
Finding and keeping the right people can be tough. Establish a network of skilled service providers who know and care about your business – they often outlast a high turnover of staff, and so bring stability and knowledge to your departments. Choose service partners who are skilled in marketing and experienced in the mining sector so that you have the best team at your fingertips.
As work closely with Mining Communication Managers, we assist with managing a team of service providers. Some of these are external management (eg. liaising with printers) or some are internal (for example our drone operator will deal with the civil aviation queries directly).
A Marketing Communication team’s support service providers can include:
- Creative agency (that’s us!)
- Public Relations
TIP 3: Avoid a culture clash
A foreign workforce brings a unique challenge. The DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) for example speaks over 200 languages. If your site has foreign workers, you’ll be adding even more languages and cultures to your mining site. Find out the most common languages of both the area your mine is in and the majority of your workers, so that you can communicate with them effectively. Make the effort to learn their cultures so that you can relate to them as people.
We recommend that Mining Communication Managers take the time to learn the main cultures of the mine’s workforce. This means they can avoid cultural clashes in communication. And, we believe, more importantly, they can connect better with the workforce by integrating their cultural customs, even in a small way for example by remembering their key national holidays.
When we work with multi-national mines, during our strategy sessions we identify the nationalities, languages and key religions and beliefs. With this data, we’re able to create a calendar of special days for which we can plan communication material and activities. If you are interested to see examples of this, please reach out to us for more information.
TIP 4: Stay safe
Don’t ignore health and safety! Make sure your signage, safety videos, health campaigns and Toolbox talks are available in the correct language and dialect. Most importantly, show the correct practices – too often corporate videos show incorrect safety practices, which means that your marketing investment is unuseable. A successful brand is a safe brand.
It’s important to place your safety signage and messages in the correct places, and that it is properly manufactured. Often we’ll see a hand-washing sign placed too far away from a tap, so it misses the opportunity of reminding people to wash their hands. Or the CRM signage has faded to the point of missing vital safety information. Walk around your site and check that all signage material is in good condition and in a logical place.
If you have a safety campaign, ensure that the information is correct and factual. You may have a multi-national workforce, so it’s important to ensure that you are communicating to them in a language and manner they understand. This could require you to translate your safety communication material into different languages. We recommend using a professional translation service for this, as we’ve seen some serious interpretation mistakes which can cause embarrassment and safety issues for the mine.
TIP 5: Plan the Action, then Action the Plan
Unlike the fluctuating commodities market, your brand and mining marketing plan should be strategised and implemented methodically. You must plan your strategy for your short, medium and long-term goals.
This strategy needs to align with the company goals and vision, whilst still meeting your specific brand objectives. We find it best to have a Discovery session where the goals are set out and each key stakeholder shares their objectives. Thereafter we categorise these goals and we brainstorm the best activities for that category. Once the plan has been established, we divide the categories into dates and responsibilities and assign them in our project management software, along with key milestone dates. Whilst this process is time-consuming and challenging, it sets you up for a successful year where you can forecast how you will meet your goals.
This is where a Mining Marketing specialist team like Halo Media can work with you to overcome your challenges with time, skills and experience. (Check out our full Mining Marketing and Brand Management services here)
Halo Media are a brand and marketing company that specialises in mining communication and brand management. If you are looking for a mining marketing partner, speak to us today to find out how we can assist you.
This post was originally written in 2017 and updated in 2021
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