In this digital age when reputations earned through years of hard work can potentially be ruined in a matter of days, a lack of strategy can be a costly approach.
The most effective crisis handling comes from instilling a culture for proactive reputation management and being prepared for when a crisis hits. Businesses that haven’t had any reputational crises will feel like this is a waste of resources. But if you ask any executive whose business has been affected by a reputation crisis, they will confirm that proactive reputation management is worth the money and effort.
Generally reputation management is the responsibility of the director of communications or PR. However, the error many companies make lies in limiting it to the PR department and not really considering it elsewhere.
Besides the responsibility that the PR and marketing team might carry, a company’s reputation should be owned by a broader range of senior people, including those who have decision-making power and are motivated to look after the long-term interests of the business. This way, the responsibility for the brand’s reputation is ingrained at all levels of the company.
A Reputation Mindset
It’s easy for business leaders to make decisions without considering the reputational impact, which then leads to potentially damaging consequences. One way to integrating reputation management into your business practices is to improve the capabilities and awareness of decision makers within the company.
However, this should not be limited to executives and leaders of the business. Reputation management systems are largely implemented by employees and the first business representatives to come across a potential crisis will not be senior management, but frontline staff. While it’s not realistic that every employee is able to accurately assess the reputational risk of an issue, but they can raise awareness when something isn’t going as planned.
Setting Up Processes
Ultimately, having processes in place will help your business promptly react when a crisis hits. An effective tool is the development of a crisis manual that acts as a guide for employees to refer to, instructing them who to contact in which situations. Depending on the escalation procedure, it should act as guidance on what to do and what not to do.
A well structured reporting system will ensure important information is transmitted to the relevant communications and operations personnel as an internal early warning system. External warning systems can be put in place such as media monitoring and social media monitoring. In order to have a proper response to an issue, you need to be aware of what is going on and what the media and consumers are saying. Having these processes set up will get you critical insights that can help shape your response to an issue.