In what are probably the latest developments in huge declining reputation trends, we read of the up-for-sale of “Blackwater Xe”, the private security firm. Combine that with the increasing calls on the CEO of BP Energy to step down as a price for the oily mess. These result in a price tag for bad publicity, damaged reputation, and lack of control over brand positioning.
Even the most perfect cross-industry brands and fans of Corporate Social Responsibility companies are not immune. Patriotic, job generating and substantially-contributing companies may find themselves facing a public fiasco without proper prior warning. It can even apply to “country-brands” like Israel who stand up for many things, but cannot sufficiently channel the limelight towards those advantages when crisis knocks on their doors.
Sometimes you feel you are operating in an environment where you cannot afford to disclose operational secrets, structures, financials or policies. But it’s vital to find focused messages on what you COULD reveal, clarify on, and interact with the public asking for input too.
Ed Murrow, CBS journalist and one of the early directors of the United States Information Agency during the Kennedy years and facing the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961 said: “if they want me in the crash landings, I better damn be in on the take-offs”.
Here are 7 reasons and ideas to shift your PR from crisis clean-ups to a management function TODAY:
Having a PR rep in a meeting on policy initiatives can be leveraged for brand building and positioning, both pre-emptatively and for positive impact.
Good reputation management begins early on. Not when damaged reputation requires fixing. Reputation is identified and managed well during decision making processes
Control. Early PR gets the messages YOU want to disseminate to your publics in advance so you won’t have to deal with rumors and blog-standard sources which take all your Google-results space during a crisis.
The key to every PR story a.k.a “the angle” should be pulled from management functions which PR professionals are ear-sensitive to find and pick up
Attending management decision making processes can help create plan B’s and C’s and placed in a drawer for stormy days.
Interaction with key figures on a board can generate new ideas and key messages from various company divisions’ execs used as extra PR “bonus points” in building clarity, integrity and reputation for target audiences. Who knows where your next positive news item placement will come from ?
Most important: realizing Public Relations is a two-street which can be utilized to also receive information from your key publics via PR research on their preferences, tendencies and views of your brand. This can imply on decision making in the boardroom and can prevent the next bad turn by the person on the wheel
Avoid the next bad decision snow ball. You don’t want to find yourself in blackwater mud.