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Search any news outlet online and invariably you will come across a recent story of a company or brand in the midst of negative PR. Boeing, Purdue Pharma & Deutsch Bank all spring to mind as recent high profile examples. But reputational threats can strike at any company at any time. It doesn’t discriminate. From a start-up to a Fortune 500 company, everyone is vulnerable.

Our research tells us more and more companies recognize the need to have an effective reputation management strategy in place, particularly in today’s 24-7 connected world. As technology and social media advancements rapidly increase, brand vulnerability in the face of public attacks is only set to increase also unless businesses equip themselves to effectively prepare, respond and mitigate any future reputational threats.

But many companies still don’t have a reputation management strategy in place. Deciphering how to manage public image and doing so in one clear, consistent voice can be overwhelming for many businesses. There are gargantuan amounts of scrutiny and pressure placed on the professionals responsible for navigating a company out of harm’s way in the event of a reputational threat

The following is a short general overview split into a framework of 3 parts (Preparedness, Response and Recovery) we think companies should be thinking about that can be incorporated into an effective reputation strategy program. There is no “one glove fits all” approach as every company is different but maybe a few points will help you start to think about putting a plan in place if you haven’t already.

  1. Reputational Threat Preparation

This involves prevention and preparation. This will be your risk management program that you need to have in place that will mitigate any PR attack from possibly getting out of hand. Hopefully with the right prevention and preparedness strategy in place you’ll be able to reduce known risks that can lead to a PR crisis.

This includes:

  • Identifying different types of reputational threats that exist currently
  • Creating an infallible reputation management plan
  • Selecting and training a crisis management team/spokesperson
  • Testing the plan and the team on an annual basis
  • Hiring a PR agency
  1. Reputational Threat Response

This involves how and when management will respond when a PR crisis hits. This is about what you do and say that will hopefully change the public’s negative perception of you into a positive one. Public relations plays a key role in your crisis response by helping to develop the messages that are sent to various media

This includes:

  • Proactive, transparent and accountable crisis messaging to internal & external audiences
  • Targeted audience outreach using all major communication channels
  • Being accurate with checking of facts before communicating with the public
  • Keeping the public informed and updated on key facts as events unfold
  1. Reputational Threat Recovery

This involves taking stock, assessing overall damage limitation and looking for ways to better prepare for future reputational threats as you return to business as usual. Communicating with the public still essential.

This includes:

  • Following up on and fulfilling any commitments made during the crisis phase
  • Releasing proactive updates to the public on any recovery process, corrective actions/investigations instigated
  • Analyzing lessons learned and integrating those lessons into the company’s future reputation management plan
  • Emerging stronger as an organization than before the crisis through a thorough debrief

All of the above will be discussed in more depth at the forthcoming 2020 Reputation Strategy Summit in NYC this January. Would you like to see live talks and learn how to effectively set-up internally and prepare for any PR eventuality?

Consider joining us at 2020’s unqiue ‘TED-style’ Reputation Strategy Summit taking place January 28-29, 2020 in New York City which will feature a unique lineup of multiple top practitioner professionals and prominent academics across various industries to help guide discussions about crisis communication issues, present case studies, share best practices and highlight emerging trends. For more information click on the link above.

Likewise, feel free to join our Public Relations & Marketing Professionals LinkedIn Group to learn from and connect with some of PR and Crisis Management’s leading experts. Thanks for reading and comments welcome!

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