In 2016 Aon Global Risk Management Survey ranked damage to brand and reputation as a top concern for CEOs.
This year, KPMG reported crisis and reputation management as a priority for Boards.
2018 will see crisis response preparedness take on a greater perspective. The increase in Cyberattacks and information technology failures will be key drivers.
All these lead to greater communication thinking and management in a crisis. The ‘big hit’ to reputation comes when stakeholders gain knowledge of the gap between when the incident occurred and their notification of it. It is the moot point in any crisis. And social media and radio station listener ‘reporters’ will bring greater pressures on the communication process and, in turn, perception and reputation.
This means that crisis communication plans based on operational responses alone will fail in the digital era. Unless reputation management, or perception analysis of how a company is addressing the incident companies are in catch-up mode in protecting any customer good will they may have. If perception is not actively managed in the response process, corporate reputation will suffer. The negative content will prevail, and the incident will become a case study for industry and internal reviews.
Crisis Readiness Tips
Create and test the communication plan based on perception and reputation management long before you need it. Take into account perception is managed around your issues and risk registers and the scenarios around them.
Be prepared to be open and transparent with the incident information – stakeholders need to know what is being done and what they should be doing.
Do not attempt to cover-up an incident – the digital era will catch you out.
Establish a ‘dark’ communication room alongside the operational response room to ensure timely knowledge transfer.
Ensure all communication personnel know their role and responsibilities.
Establish effective communication channels to inform all your stakeholders/customers in an efficient manner.
Set up a comprehensive media and social media monitoring system to provide timely information flows.
Build strong third-party relationships with industry influencers to assist in addressing the negative content.
Establish a sound, effective and efficient media enquiries response process.
Undertake incident communication response training every six months, focussed on roles, responsibilities and overcoming weaknesses.
If you do not have a crisis communication plan in place focused on reputation and perception management, or you need some assistance with your strategy, email firstname.lastname@example.org .