I had an opportunity recently to talk to a client about managing an issue that threatened the company’s brand in the long term. The client, somewhat understandably was reluctant to say anything for fear of making the situation worse. When we had a chance to chat, I pleaded with them to get on the front foot and communicate with their stakeholders about the issue. After all, what was worse: having some tough conversations or letting the rumours run rampant?
To cut a long story short, in the end I needed to give a few key tips about reputation management to get them thinking. In the end they still were not sure about what to do next but hopefully what I said gave them some food for thought for anything that might happen in the future.
So here it is, my quick tips to reputation risk management. These are just a starter, the canapés if you like, but just something to get you thinking!
- Act swiftly and decisively: Get your head out of the sand, people! If somebody accuses you of something ask why? What do they know, what have they heard? Get to the bottom of it and quickly! If a comment is incorrect, address it, if it’s nasty but right, investigate it, but whatever you do don’t just ignore it.
- Communicate clearly and openly: Don’t hide behind corporate speak, Say what happened and clearly describe how you are going to fix it.
- Address the issue not just the communications: A media statement is nice but if somebody has identified an issue how will you fix it? Work out how to address the problem and do it. Then and only then can you communicate authentically.