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.


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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.