At a year-end annual press conference hosted by Guangzhou local taxation bureau, a top 10 multinational advertising company was disclosed as one of the “Top 10 Tax Inspection Companies” in the region and was penalized to pay taxes and late payment surcharges of RMB 20 million. The news was soon publicized by a number of influential media in China, including Yangcheng Evening News and China News Agency, with social media platforms such as Weibo picking it up.
Since the company was a part of a global network of agencies, the tax issue was not caused by the company itself but by one of its sister agencies in the network. The government used the wrong company name in their case while the sister company – a media buying firm – did not agree with the government’s judgment and found the penalty unfair. The mix-up by the government not only impacted both companies’ brand reputation, but also caused potential anxiety for its employees and customers.
MSLGROUP China supported the external and internal communications for both companies. The first step was defining the media buying company as the main body for external communications to correct the identity mix-up. Other initiatives included:
The second wave of media publicity was successfully controlled with a well defined communications strategy to ease anxiety from employees and customers. MSLGROUP China minimized the negative impact on business, customers, and corporate reputation through active crisis management initiatives.