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Managing reputation risk in a social world

theDesk event - Risk Management
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Crisis is the new norm

Between 2010 and 2017, headlines with the word “crisis” and the name of a Forbes 100 company appeared 80 percent more often than in the previous decade. The ever-evolving media landscape has created vulnerabilities at every turn, from Instagram to Facebook, particularly for consumer-facing brands with large customer bases. 2019 itself has already seen many well-respected companies face significant reputational crises. If reputation risk is the new normal, what can companies do to mitigate and prepare? How can they ensure they are not overwhelmed by an issue or crisis? How can they retain the initiative, whatever the circumstances?

Pre-emptive planning

The popular adage – if you fail to plan, you plan to fail – sums up the best approach to risk management. Serious issues and crises seldom happen in isolation on a single channel, and seemingly benign events, comments, or incidents can rapidly escalate into a crisis without warning. With the ease of sharing on digital platforms, a brand’s reputation can be obliterated in a matter of minutes if an incident or crisis is improperly managed. Summed up by Anne-Marie Malecha, SVP at Dezenhall Resources, “crisis management is a containment discipline and social media is the opposite.”

In short, preparation is key. In the event of a crisis, brands need to be ready for anything and everything. The first step to doing this is to create a “playbook” that explores the various scenarios that may occur during a social media crisis, with step-by-step guides on how to handle these situations. The playbook can help brands to answer the following questions:

• How do you identify an issue before 95% of your audiences are aware, including mainstream media?

• How do you use social media to buy time and how to use this time well?

• How do you engage your people to ensure crisis plans are understood, valued and used?

• How does asking what “can’t” happen have more value than what “can”?

• How do you empower your greatest asset – your employees in your crisis response?

• How do you use social media to mitigate a crisis and know where to focus when times are tough?

• How do you adopt new thinking, creativity and dynamic solutions in your crisis response?

By having a step-by-step plan, brands will equip themselves with the answers before the questions even arise and during a crisis, they will be able to execute this plan seamlessly rather going into panic mode.

The war room

However, as most people can attest to, plans only get you so far. At some point along the road it comes down to execution and experience, that’s why it’s so important to test your plan in a “war-room”. By training your team in a war room style simulation, you can run through an endless number of scenarios that might arise during a real-life crisis…anything from a global news report about your CEO’s gambling addiction, to public outcry about a recent Instagram post. By undergoing the rigors of a simulated crisis, brands can uncover flaws in their plan and learn new strategies to better deal with previously unforeseen circumstances.

Think ahead

In the world of business today, it’s a case of prove you’re not guilty. Smart companies think ahead, placing digital risk and social media strategy at the heart of their crisis response plans. They understand that social media need not be a negative force. Managed properly, it can be a powerful resource, disseminating accurate, positive corporate information. As the late President John F. Kennedy infamously remarked, “in a crisis, be aware of the danger but recognize the opportunity.”

Take for example Hong Kong’s MTR Corporation who, after facing a string of crises that damaged the reputation of the company, realized their approach to managing a crisis needed improvement. As a result, the transport giant decided to host a full-day crisis simulation, as well a deep audit to develop a new crisis management playbook. This process resulted in an agile and modern crisis prevention guide, while also helping the company identify key weaknesses and areas for improvement in their approach to risk strategy. The MTR example also highlights the point that “crises are solved through operational decisions, not just PR bandages.”

By RFi Asia

This brief introduction to risk management highlights why being prepared for anything and everything is so important in today’s world. With that in mind, we invite you to join theDesk on Wednesday, July 10th, when David Ko of RFI Asia, will be hosting a Ruder Finn SONAR™ Crisis Simulation experience. This dynamic environment of a fast-developing social media crisis in real-time will enable you and your team to put your skills to the test: Assess the situation, develop strategies and solutions, obtain relevant approvals and implement your plans. RSVP here.

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