Why Online Reputation Management is Vital in Handling Crisis Situations
While every company wants to have a smooth sailing, businesses will always face challenges in various forms at some point. In the “offline” era, uncomfortable issues could be quickly managed and quietly resolved. Conversely, in this digital world, people and businesses don’t have the luxury of screwing up in silence.
In fact, once conflicts or crises situations escalate, we are no longer just thinking about ironing out the issue — we are looking to the online world with a puzzled mind on how to tackle a communications crisis.
After the internet got a foothold, there has been an increasing number of headlines involving either executives or brands losing their reputation due to workplace misconduct, or product and services failures.
Hollywood, Wall Street, or Walmart, no industry is safe from the power of the digital space. What’s more, social media amplifies the mishaps of companies or individuals, creating a digital footprint that can alert the public to incidents that may have happened even years in the past.
Companies can spend a lifetime building their reputations and, while we think they’re sturdy, in the digital world reputations are more like a house of cards — vulnerable to the click of a button.
Besides mistakes, businesses can be defamed or mis-represented easily, finding themselves on the defensive in often the most unexpected moments.
Sometimes, businesses can actually do everything right — but one unfounded accusation, or false truth, can go on to build an erroneous perception due to the power of the internet. Especially for large corporations, their brand equity is the company’s most valuable asset, and redeeming a tarnished reputation can be a long and expensive process.
While protecting a company’s reputation might seem reactive, it shouldn’t necessarily be so. You can’t foresee troubles that might come your way, but every business can plan and prepare for crisis situations.
At the bare minimum, there should be an internal team whose responsibility is to coordinate a strategy for when a reputational crisis hits. They should also be working closely with the communications team to devise an action plan.
A plan must take into account everyone who might be affected by the crisis: employees, customers, partners or any other stakeholders. Moreover, the plan should be laid out to include all communications channels available to you, with targeted plans for Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and your website. You also should also consider how to utilize video channels such as YouTube, as well as traditional media outlets like television, newspapers, and online news outlets.
Handling reputational crises isn’t easy, but any work that takes back control of your own message is worth the time and effort.