Every industry has the potential for unwanted PR problems. So if things do go pear shaped, you need to know how to cope not only the issue itself but also with the possible damage to your hard-earned reputation.
In this digital era where communication is instantaneous and bad news travels at the speed of a click, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of a public backlash.
So, how do you avert a full-on digital media disaster? Follow these tips for managing your company’s reputation across all digital platforms.
As with any aspect of your business, planning should be your first step.
Firstly, identify problem areas where disaster could strike, such as:
- Are you in an industry where employees could get harmed?
- Do your business operations, products, and/or services impact the environment?
- How at risk are you when it comes to legal issues?
- Where could things go wrong?
Next, formulate a contingency plan on how your company could address the problem including how you’ll communicate your message.
Keep Your Employees In The Loop
It’s good practice to let your employees know what to say in times of crises. This will help to reduce their anxieties while ensuring that the message is consistent.
Don’t ask them to protect your business on social media, force them to say things they don’t want to say or leave them clueless about what’s going on. Brief them about the situation and what you’re planning to do to address it.
Respond At The Right Time
Delaying your official announcement may make you seem guilty or evasive. On the other hand, giving a statement pre-emptively could make you seem overly defensive and may even imply that you have yet to get a good grasp of what’s going on. Instead, assess the situation, find the solutions, strategise and then release a statement in a timely manner.
Your company’s responsibility doesn’t end with releasing an official statement. You have to listen to what people are saying on social media and news websites. Be available for comment, updates and the like. The worst thing you could do in the middle of a crisis is to keep mum about it.
Acknowledge the problem and focus on solutions
Don’t linger on the problem. Talk about the solutions your company is implementing.
Prepare answers to frequently asked questions or better yet, post infographics, fact sheets, etc. to let people know what you’re doing to address the problem.
Nobody said it better than Mark Twain. "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." It’s better to just tell the truth as the internet has eyes and ears everywhere. Telling a fabricated story risks damage to your company’s reputation and could have legal repercussions.
Any business coach will tell you that mismanaged PR can result in public and client distrust with a subsequent negative effect on your bottom line. Knowing how to handle your online reputation is a skill you need to have in this digital world. After all, reputation is everything.
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