I’m a big believer that the best brand crisis is the one you’ve never heard about. We’ve all seen the disasters where a once-thriving personal or business brand loses all its credibility and viability because one misstep or undesirable event landed it in a full-blown reputational crisis.
The truth is, most PR crises can not only be prevented, but even better, they can present an opportunity for the brand to show its commitment to living its values and strengthen relationships with people that matter most.
How do they do it? It starts by measuring our operations and behaviors against those values. Practicing regular risk assessment by anticipating what could go wrong in all areas of your business, developing plans to mitigate, and openly communicate should an issue arise will limit liabilities to your reputation and your business operations.
I know what you’re thinking. You have your hands full with the opportunities and fires in front of you right now and investing significant time into such activities seems risky in itself.
I hear you. You didn’t build a thriving business by taking your eyes off the ball. But we must look at the downsides of not assessing and preparing for what could go wrong.
The risk of not doing this will result in much more than just negative press coverage and social media backlash when a crisis inevitably strikes. It can result in long-term and irreparable damages, such as losing brand collaborations, increased financial liabilities, disrupted operations, a damaged internal culture, loss of sales, and plummeting investor confidence.
Today’s environment also includes more risks than ever before. Consumers are holding brands accountable for more than just the satisfaction of their products and safe operations. Brands are judged on their actions around social responsibility, values-driven leadership, and healthy internal cultures.
So how do we start? Here are 10 steps to kick-off the process of mitigating risks to your brand.
- Rally the C-Suite and other leaders for buy-in
- Establish an internal culture where employees can raise risk concerns without fear of backlash
- Charge a group of cross-departmental leaders to complete the assessment
- Provide resources such as time and information access needed to get the job done successfully
- Identify possible risks that both internal and external factors can trigger
- Assess the likelihood they’ll happen and rank them by priority
- Identify who they’ll impact and what the effect will be
- Take steps to correct preventable issues
- Craft a communication plan and stakeholder outreach strategy for each likely or possible risk that can be quickly activated when a crisis strikes
- Regularly reassess your plan to account for new issues
Practicing regular risk assessment will not only protect you from dealing with PR fires, but it will also set you up for creating an Everlasting Brand that can withstand the tests of time, adversity, and even failures by earning the type of credibility you just can’t buy.