How safe is your reputation?
You have business insurance, travel insurance, directors’ and officers’ insurance and the like, don’t you? Surely everyone does. After all, if something goes wrong you want to know your business will be covered.
What about reputation insurance? No? Well that could be because it’s hard to quantify what your reputation is worth, but you do need to be prepared for what happens if something goes wrong with your business. How do you deal with any crisis that arises? Who deals with it, and when will they do it?
These (and others) are the questions that are asked when you prepare a crisis communications plan – or get one put together for you.
It’s easy to assume a crisis won’t happen in your business, or that no-one would really care if something went wrong. However, while we appreciate you’re unlikely to suffer the sort of incident that saw American Airlines hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons, even smaller scale events can cause damage. In the cleaning industry for example, misuse of chemicals or inappropriate storage can lead to significant bad publicity. There are still all too many accidents in the waste management industry for anyone working in that to be complacent.
Now that social media is all but omnipresent, it’s easier than ever for bad news to spread, and much harder to contain any issues. A careless response to a Tweet for example can lead to ridicule. Add to that the fact there have never been as many risks – for instance cyber-crime levels, including hacking, continue to grow each year – and the case for preparing yourself becomes even more compelling, whatever industry you are in.
Not only does a crisis reflect poorly on an organisation at the time, but if not handled efficiently and expertly, the reputational damage will continue to linger, affecting ongoing business and will ultimately diminish your bottom line, potentially for years to come.
The Scouts’ motto ‘Be prepared’ is very apt. By planning for the worst, you can ensure that it doesn’t happen. Not only will you be better prepared if something goes wrong, but you may even be able to pre-empt and avoid a crisis when you’re reviewing scenarios.
You buy insurance because you hope you’ll never need it, but it’s there when you do – it should be the same for crisis communications. You’ve worked hard to build your reputation – don’t take it for granted!