By the time you hear the thunder it’s too late to build the ark.
This analogy is perfect for reputation management and crisis communications. Many organisations fail to take proactive steps to mitigate and minimise their exposure to reputational events (crises). This means that if a crisis hits, they potentially spend crucial hours trying to work out their approach to the situation.
According to PwC, 69% of organisations have experienced a crisis in the past five years and the threats facing organisations and individuals are getting broader. According to former FBI Director Robert Mueller: “There are two types of companies: those that have been hacked and those that will be. Even that is merging into one category: those that have been hacked and will be again.” Organisations are also having to constantly review and assess economic pressures, global unrest that could impact supply chains, and other external factors that could affect their business. It is therefore crucial for organisations to have reputation management strategies and procedures in place, so that if a crisis does hit they know what steps to take and therefore stand the best change of managing the outcomes.
How to prepare for a crisis
While every crisis is different, there are steps that each and every organisation can take to ensure that if a crisis hits, they are prepared. These include:
Setup robust monitoring of your brand, key individuals and products, services and solutions across media and social media. This should also include the platforms that you don’t have a presence on. You may need to add to these terms in a crisis, for example adding in specific influencers, product lines or industry peers, but a benchmark of the most common phrases, terms and individuals to monitor should help to provide a rounded review of your presence across traditional and social media.
A crisis communications team
Your organisation should have a crisis communications team pulling in expertise from key areas of the business (including HR, finance and comms) to discuss the most likely threats facing your business and to plan how to respond to any crisis. They should meet regularly, acting proactively to review any potential threats and to ensure that the organisation is up-to-date with developments. This includes internal issues that may impact the business, such as software or hardware updates, new suppliers or new team members, or external developments, such as legislation, changes to the economic landscape or changes within your sector.
A crisis communications plan
This plan should serve as a playbook in a crisis. It should be reviewed and updated regularly. New threats are constantly emerging and it’s important that these are reflected in any plans that you have. It should include stakeholder maps, template documents, such as media logs, FAQs and internal announcements, and much more. It may also include policy documents, and, if appropriate, specific NDAs.
This should include scenario training but also media training, putting key individuals within your organisation through their paces. Do they know how to eloquently, clearly and concisely explain your organisation without jargon? Are they able to come across as trusted and transparent in their communications?
It is important that you regularly review and assess your crisis capabilities. Make sure that your plans – and teams – are appropriate and that they are trained on any developments within your organisation or on tools that could help them in their crisis response.
To find out how Rostrum can help with the reputation management support for your organisation email Grant Bather at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us and we will be in touch.