Reputation management requires decisive action
Reputation is so tenuous and easily ruined by poor communication and indecisiveness.
Avoiding the real story in a crisis or obfuscating an issue are usually the beginning of the slippery slide to loss of reputation. When you have been in issues management for as long as the senior team at Wrights, you know how to recognise a train wreck about to happen.
Doomed is the Minister who has their staff release a statement that says: “‘All travel undertaken by (the) Minister for Ministerial purposes and travel undertaken by her spouse, was done so within entitlements,’ a spokeswoman said.”
Pilloried is the corporation, which when commenting on the deaths of patrons at one of its facilities makes a statement saying they have been in contact with relatives of the deceased, when they haven’t. You know what’s coming.
In the case of the former, removal from a Ministerial role and in the latter, a crash in the share price and a huge loss of face for the board, executive and brand.
In both examples, there have been hundreds of opinions expressed in the media on how matters could have been handled better. Some of these opinions are worth considering because they look at the importance of integrity in communication; others are merely highlighting poor behaviour and incompetence.
Crisis communication is an important business skill that requires decisive action.
Effective reputation management in a crisis requires that you indicate you understand the situation, show concern for anyone affected, demonstrate you are actively listening, confirm you are cooperating and undertake to keep open lines of communication.
These are the “optics” of reputation management, but the real crux is to be totally committed to deliver on those statements. When a crisis hits, the first action is to ensure public safety, the next is to manage reputation and the third is to limit financial impact. In that order.