Great public relations practitioners know the making of a crisis when they see one. And PR pros know how to navigate the crisis to save a brand. But what if we didn’t have to work in crisis mode? PR teams can deploy solid reputation management strategies to help their clients sustain quality conversations that both keep the peace and sustain a reputation for the long run.
In this two-part series, learn key principles for helping your businesses build a reputation management strategy.
- Reject "business as usual" as a mantra. Often, businesses answer negative claims with the defense that the work they’ve done has been sufficient. In recent examples, such as the closing of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus or shifts in SeaWorld’s programming, ample proclamations of safety and quality animal husbandry were the first responses from these organizations when pressure mounted. This approach wastes time reinforcing the very practices under critique. If this method fails, efforts are wasted and brands are faced with the need to invent or deploy a new plan, incurring new costs.
- Businesses must know how change affects them. Culturally, audiences have shifted. Audiences now question more details, ingredients and processes than ever before. The wide range of shareable knowledge, the speed of internet conversations and videos, and a general awareness now as consumers have changed audiences’ expectations for quality and the types of behaviors they want their brands to engage in. Consumers have changed. Brands must embrace that their product must align with the new wants and needs.
- The supply chain, and not necessarily the customers, may change the way companies do business. There are many cases where the directive to change comes from consumers and filters down the supply chain. Yet in many industries, activist pressure is an additional voice affecting the industry. Though also consumers, activist groups function differently and push campaigns that make a company feel extreme pressure from a very limited audience. Reputation managers must cultivate strategic plans that attend to this unique consumer audience as a distinct voice in the chain. Messages tailored for general consumer audiences aren’t enough; cultivating long-term messages and corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies that intercept activist claims are an additional — and necessary — part of the reputation management process.
Come back next week for two more insights on how to help your clients adopt a reputation management mentality. Or download our guide here.
Angie Greving is a Team Leader in Public Relations and Reputation Management at Bader Rutter. She delivers strategic counsel, content, social media and issues management for food and agriculture clients. For more than a decade, she has helped clients shape and execute plans for issues management, corporate communications and corporate social responsibility.