There is one time you are guaranteed to get public attention – during a crisis. Within seconds your corporate and individual reputation which took years to build can be tarnished. A crisis can occur in any organization at any time with devastating consequences. After all, it is the public that defines reputation, not the company. So as long as humans work there will be mistakes, controversy and blow ups .... and crises. We all know it can’t happen to us. But it can and happen when we least expect it. So how should we respond? And more importantly, what can we do make sure IT does not happen to us. Will we ever listen…greed, ambition and ignorance will give rise to scandal, intrigue and real life drama…..Government transparency and corporate governance further pave to make us each vulnerable. The Internet allows us to expose misdeeds or blow the whistle to millions including employees, customers, vendors and others within seconds and with photos or videos. Nonetheless, in every crisis there is opportunity (Chinese proverb).
The best plans don’t have automatic responses, but a number of questions for the crisis team to ask, include:
- What are the business goals in addressing this crisis?
- Who do we need to help?
- What information has been gathered?
- What don’t we know?
- Who can help us?
- What must we do now to protect our employees, customers and shareholders?
The company needs a set of messages that set forth the company’s position in what best describes its actions, its values and its approach (No more than three). Also, make sure any investigation is thorough and independent. And while it is important to communicate to the public through the media, the general counsel must make sure any response does not make the situation worse.