Reputation management 101

Written by on January 11, 2014 in News

Reputation Management

In today’s complex, fast-paced business environment the expectations of all organizations from multinational companies to non-profits and government agencies has irreparably changed.  Organizations of all types and sizes must now face an increasingly skeptical public, invasive media, consumer activists, nervous investors and disengaged employees. The reputation of your organization is your greatest asset which takes many years to build, but only the click of a mouse to destroy. With reputation more valuable and vulnerable than ever before, this requires strong communication and relationships with a broad spectrum of stakeholders.

Today news and rumours are being reported online instantaneously through social media by citizen journalists who are armed with smart phones that can share photos and video anytime and virtually anywhere. They can instantly shape the way the world perceives your organization, for better or worse. So the days of sweeping controversial issues under the proverbial carpet have diminished ushering in an age of transparency, whether we are ready or not.   

So when a crisis strikes, often without warning, it is sure to spark confusion among employees, anger among consumers and donors or prompt nervous investors to cause stocks to tumble.  Without a crisis communications plan and fast response from your organization, the media will begin to speculate further magnifying the inaccuracies.  

Ultimately your success in managing a crisis is determined by how well you manage your stakeholder relationships, particularly media coverage of the crisis – how the story is portrayed. This means that to the degree possible, we need to provide the media with what they need to get their job done, but also protect the interests of the company and those directly impacted. Especially in the frenzy of a crisis, what you say and do will be scrutinized in both the court of public opinion and in a court of law.  

A crisis is not the time to be evasive or unavailable to the media. If news media get the impression that you will not communicate openly and honestly, given reasonable constraints, they will simply seek information for their stories from other sources.  We maintain greater control over the message, when we are able to frame the issue, provide our perspective to neutralize negative opinions, add balance to an otherwise one-sided story and influence public perceptions, rather than remaining silent and hoping for the best. 

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