Chinese whispers: Steps towards ensuring effective crisis and reputation management

There are many technical PR disciplines that are misunderstood, none more so than crisis and reputation management, which is all too often brought into play after the fact – when it’s too late. However, by this time it could already be too late; the corporate boat is heading steadily down the creek and peoples’ perception will unquestionably be tainted by the Chinese whispers they’ve already been exposed to. Disaster has struck and an emergency rescue procedure prompts people into action.


Not all Chinese whispers are as
harmless and adorable as these ones
When done effectively crisis and reputation management is consistent and in advance and is an integrated part of the business model. A proactive approach allows for the identification of opportunities for possible negative coverage and ensures a protection strategy can be put in place. No nasty surprises there.

A few tips:

- Monitor your business for likely negative stories that could appear in the media. When you find them, prepare to handle them.

- Establish a relationship with a group of journalists. Not only are they more likely to source the information straight from the horse’s mouth but that information could prove influential in encouraging positive reporting.

- Monitor your social media activity. This will give you a real time indication of the perception people hold of your brand. Do they understand your products? How do they rate them? Are they publically critical? This will also allow you to identify emerging problems and nip them in the bud before an outbreak occurs.

- Don’t ignore social media at the weekend. This is the most likely time for an attack to occur.


What if a trip down the creek is inevitable?
It is often the case that inaccurate and bias information is obtained from unreliable sources when the company in question is unresponsive. This will almost defiantly lead to a negative coverage.

To overcome this:

- Make accurate information available. People, especially journalists, like responsible, transparent companies.

- Have a spokesperson within the company who is able to issue an instant response. Don’t keep the public deliberating over a message; remove the drama, clear up misunderstandings and share your strategy.

- Communicate the message in a clear, concise way that the public are going to understand. Leave the technical jargon for the boardroom and focus on enabling a clear two way conversation.

A rapid, relevant and useful response targeting potentially interested journalists and opinion formers will smooth the trip, keep your paddles intact and play a key role in safeguarding your corporate reputation. No more Chinese whispers.

Photo courtesy of Phaitoon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Lorien Perry - Stone Junction

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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