Posted by on Nov 03, 2015 at 12:04pm
Managing Director, Katie Whirledge, gives her views on the importance of clear and controlled reputation management when negative news threatens the future of your business…
There's no such thing as bad publicity?
Well, we’d beg to differ, along with industry giants Thomas Cook, BP and Tesco to name but a few, who have all seen their profit margins plummet under negative PR. Not forgetting Gerald Ratner, whose 15 second moment of frivolity saw £500m wiped off the value of the family’s silver-plated empire.
However, we’re only human, and no matter how prepared you think you might be, there are times when things will just go wrong. So, what to do? Running away, head in the sand, and - heaven forbid - “no comment” are not viable options if you want to try and rescue your reputation.
Can you put a price on your reputation? Probably not.
The portentous words of Warren Buffet - “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it...” – prick the inner conscience of most us, but especially reputable business owners. We can’t always prevent things from going wrong, but when they do it’s how you handle it and what you communicate, that determines the level of damage to your business and ultimate survival.
Bad news travels… FAST! It always has. But now, in the digital age, it travels faster and further at just a click of a button. No longer is ‘today’s news tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapper’ – news is readily available and lingers for quite some time. If something bad happens, it is crucial to act quickly. Preparation is key - a full crisis plan should already be in place and media responses signed off before the media mass work up a frenzy.
Sorry seems to be the hardest word to say - and yet sometimes it’s all we need to hear.
Accountability, responsibility, humanity and humility, should be at the core of any communication plan.
Brilliant crisis management and communications won’t make bad news disappear, well, not always. However, through effective communication which demonstrates how you’re putting people first and attempting to put things right, it will certainly help with damage limitation. By controlling the communication process you can direct the story; create balance where there might be bias, present fact where there might be speculation and establish a sense of order where there might be a public perception of chaos.