Reputation is probably the most valuable asset of any company according to Reputation 911. When people think about a company or their products, it is really the consideration of the company’s reputation that is at the forefront of their mind. That reputation is what recruits staff, achieves higher prices and keeps customers.
A reputation of real value takes a long time to grow, kind of like a tree. And like a tree it takes only a minute to cut it down. All it takes is a business crisis and some mishandled management for that tree to fall. Years of reputation and credibility are gone.
With loss of reputation being such an extraordinary risk, you would expect companies to be aware of and be planning for events that might damage that reputation. That is rarely the case.
You should start by identifying and assessing the main reputation risks within your company. Where is your business most at risk of a crisis? Many of the crises can be averted before they occur. Most importantly, does everyone who is going to be involved in managing and communicating about the crisis know what his or her roles are?
Many companies have little idea that a crisis has occurred until after the event. You need to identify the real crisis quickly and not be distracted by the symptoms and then take the first steps to manage it. Managing a crisis requires a skillful ability to resolve the causes of a crisis and also communicate your way out of the symptoms.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate during a crisis. Ask yourself how will you communicate with your employees, customers, suppliers, the news media and anybody else, when your crisis occurs? Who will be responsible? Who will be your spokesperson, is that person trained to do the job? What key messages will you communicate? What is the role of the CEO? Should he or she remain above the fray or should they show their engagement.
Many PR companies create crisis management plans, yet most crises go through stages that require different approaches: remain flexible in your approach and be proactive.
Don’t let a mismanaged crisis destroy your most valuable asset.