Some people seem to thrive under pressure: emergency room doctors, firefighters, even kindergarten teachers. Reputation management companies also thrive in a crisis, but with a proactive plan to protect your business from loss of reputation, you might never have to go into crisis mode.
Here’s what you should know about reputational risk management.
Chances are, you have experienced that feeling where you leave a conversation or a meeting, thinking of all of the things you wish you had said. When it comes to a heated moment—responding to press or litigation or even online haters, it’s much better to know what you intend to say before the conversation. It’s called proactive reputation management (versus reactive). Under the right guidance, you can examine potential threats or minor threats to reputation before they ever become serious.
Think of proactive preparation like a fire evacuation drill. Of course, you hope you never have to use it! But you still want to be prepared in the event of an emergency. What’s more, proactive reputation management costs less. You may still engage legal counsel or hold staff training or other related expenses, but they are very short and small in comparison to a reactive event.
Once you’ve decided you are willing to be proactive about reputation management, it’s time to get productive. Capitalize on the resources you have:
- You know your industry, what potential PR situations have you already observed?
- How might others see your business in a negative way, or have even already spread libel about you?
- Who would be an excellent spokesperson, if you drilled that person on how to answer questions?
These and other reflexive questions will get you developing your first draft of a crisis management plan. You want to do your best to cover all possible scenarios, and how they might impact various aspects of your business. You’ll want to include communication and media protocols for all the key personnel who could be involved in a crisis situation. You want to draft a policy for staff who should not become an “unofficial spokesperson,” since a wayward tweet or comment to a friend could cause a situation to spiral out of control.
Examine your business from various angles and determine your needs, in the case of an event that threatens loss of reputation.
When it comes to protecting your business reputation, there are so many angles in this modern age. Stolen personal or private information (hacking), piracy, negative search results, negative review posts on any number of review sites, news and fake news articles that impact your business, negative social media interactions or reviews, and so much more, could occur, beyond just old-fashioned bad press in the media.
All of these digital assaults are also instantaneous! There’s no call from a newsroom saying, “I’m going to air this story tomorrow, care to respond?” You have zero reaction time in the face of an incident, so proactive time is well spent. Fortunately, reputation management keeps pace with the digital age. Most of what is known about a reputation these days are online, and so managing that reputation digitally allows you to be in control of your image.
In conjunction with an overall, coordinated branding strategy—both brand image creation and brand protection—online reputation management allows you to assess and handle threats at the speed in which they happen.
If you’d like to find out more about threats to your business and how to practice proactive crisis management, contact us. We have the insight you need.