Reputation management is an ongoing effort. It happens in real time every single day you're in business.
Public relations is often thought of as something that can be "managed" by the PR firm. However, in most cases, the PR challenge at hand is something that began long before within the organizations. The best brands are built from the inside out. In both of the recent cases in the news lately (nationally and locally), had better employee training been in place, there wouldn't have been a PR crisis to manage.
In the Starbucks incident, they smartly posted a video from the CEO within 24 hours of the incident. Within 48 hours, an action plan was in place. To some extent, a movie was playing in the minds of many consumers in America which included a narrative that was damaging to Starbucks. The company immediately responded by saying essentially this was wrong and we take this incident seriously. So seriously that we are closing down every store in America to train employees so this never happens again. As one writer noted, it was Spielberg level storytelling. It stopped the mass exodus in its track and kept many customers in play. They also provided leadership to countless other brands who may face similar challenges.
So what can a company do to protect itself?
- Understand there is a larger narrative happening in the world that puts every organization, leader and business at risk.
- Assemble your crisis team now. Who has the authority to respond? How will you respond? Who will vet the comments? What is expected of every person on the team? In many cases with regards to social content, we have a Google doc that is shared among the crisis team members. Every word is scrutinized.
- In most cases, you can identify potential crisis now and write position statements in advance. This is the best time to write and think through your response....when there isn't a crisis.
- HR needs to be at the table too. It needs to be crystal clear what is appropriate and inappropriate communication for all staff.
Locally, a well known restaurant came under fire on social media. Creative Company was interviewed to provide a perspective on what a business owner can do in a similar situation. Read the Cap Times Article >>
“It used to be your local news station or newspaper told you what was newsworthy,” Gallagher said. “Now every individual has their own channel and their own audience and can influence and share.”