Crisis Comms: Manage Your Reputation, or Your Reputation will Manage YOU
Date Posted:Thu, 17th Nov 2022
If you asked anyone in communications, what is the one thing that could destroy your business in seconds, every agency would give you the same answer: poor reputation management. In a day and age where opinion often trumps fact and every op...
What is Reputation Management?
When you Google yourself, what comes up? Are you getting good reviews and comments or are you terrified of opening your browser? Perhaps you don’t think much of it at all.
Reputation management is how agencies and brands control the public’s perception of them. This can be done through several different methods. It’s a continuous process (and sometimes can feel like an ongoing uphill battle) and needs to be managed by a team who is on hand at all times. Especially during a crisis.
Very recently there was an incident involving James Cordon, a fancy NYC restaurant and an omelette that wasn’t up to his standards. Corden was accused of verbally accosting a waiter at the restaurant and displaying less than generous behaviour towards other staff.
According to the owner, who took to Twitter to air the dirty laundry, Corden’s behaviour was not at all how his fans had come to see him. It is worth noting, that in the past there have been other issues and reports of Corden being “rude,” but his PR team and strong industry partnerships managed to keep the reins on those horses,
so to speak.
On its own, this restaurant incident could have created damage to his image, but not quite as much has been done since McNally, the owner, posted about it. Never one to address previous accusations online before, James issued an on-air apology. According to fans, this apology was lacklustre and insincere. It is often a heavy weight to measure on the scale… to respond or not to respond.
In this case, it would seem the miscalculation has cost Corden, and over-analysis of his apology swung public opinion against him. Reputation = damaged. Overcoming this will be difficult, and no matter what, will linger in the talk-show host’s history for years to come.
So, the essential factor for your company is not only to react to a crisis well, but to proactively prepare for a possible turning tide. The reality most small busines owners do not realize is that crisis comms are not only for the “big boys.” No matter the size, if you have a public persona, reputation management needs to be a priority for your business.
How can an agency facilitate managing your brand?
There are several ways agencies can help you manage your brand. An agency proficient in handling reputation management can give you objective feedback about your business from the outside. They can show you, using data points, exactly where your strengths and weaknesses are to empower your business. They can guide you to craft a clear plan with media training on ways to respond in a moment of crisis. They will help push positive brand awareness and CSR out into the public domain to fight back against a negative narrative while crafting a new more positive
spin. From supporting your internal team with communication and community management to helping set a framework of preparation and support to keep them going strong even after the crisis is over.
What can your internal team do to set up reputation guardrails?
1. Create an outlet for customers to give feedback to you.
Whether that is because they’re angry, annoyed or just need clarification on something, a place where customers can go to vent is good. Perhaps a chatbox handled internally or a place on the website for this specific purpose.
2. Have a designated person on the team to respond and implement solutions.
You’ll hopefully by this point, already have the solutions planned out in a framework. Once someone internally has been trained, they can handle customers who have concerns or need guidance. This same framework can be used to manage a crisis.
3. Prioritize PR and invest in a public persona
Having a rock-solid foundation of what your public persona is, is key to building consumer-based trust. Your brand will only build the right kind of exposure and grow with proper public relations. An agency is necessary for this step.
4. Clear values across the board internally.
Your company’s core values should be reflected to clients at all times. Client interaction is one of the most important aspects of crisis comms and reputation management. Your internal team will need consistent training on expectations and how you want your business to show up in the external world. Ensure your staff know using standards of practice how you personal would handle each client from A to Z.
Lastly, don’t forget SOCIATE’S 3S Crisis Managment
Stop - Don't panic and don’t respond in haste. Take a moment to pause and breathe before you dive back into the situation.
Step back - Trying to manage a crisis from the inside cause undue sensitivity that can inflame the situation rather than tame it. You’re too close to the situation and lack the objectivity needed to properly respond. Get your bearings and ask an expert for help.
Strategize - If you already have a plan, use it, and lean on your team. If you do not have a plan, do not make one up while standing in the storm. Start with the outcomes and priorities you want. Ask yourself what it will take to achieve these outcomes. Understand some crises are about simple loss mitigation and not a true victory. The right agency or publicist will have been trained for a situation like this and should be the first call.
Agencies can take care of managing situations that may be beyond the scope of what you can do independently. They have strategies in place meant to make your life easier and as stress-free as possible.
If you remember nothing else from this article… Never underestimate the power of a bad tweet on a slow news day.
If reputation management sounds like something you'd like to explore for your brand, you can learn more here or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org