Greg Berube, Brand Strategist
Target Canada, Ashley Madison, Krispy Kreme. We’ve all seen it, heard it and sensed it – a brand in a downward spiral creating all kinds of legal and communication issues as it falls from grace. How can a brand fall from a place of prestige in such a short time? It happens!
Disasters happen. These situations leave a Brand, its values, its importance and its story all open for public and legal interpretation and speculation.
Strategically it’s best to take the Brand on a journey rather than the Brand leading the journey. A well-organized Reputation Management Plan is now a required tool in any corporation’s communication portfolio. It will structure itself around the Brand, Legal, and effective Communications, both internally and externally.
A Reputation Management document plan needs to be proactive and include a “go to media” component in order to maintain market share and to provide leadership to stakeholders and the general public.
Here are a few ideas that should go into your Reputation Management Plan:
- Rally the troops, circle the wagons – Start internally. Get all employees and stakeholders organized and define rules and expectations from all senior and intermediate managers. Remember: they speak directly to customers and affect revenues daily.
- Get the story straight, get all the facts – Take your time and make your first interview count. All other communications will be based on those first words, their tone, the language, and even the body language. All must be right.
- Deliver your message and believe it – Don’t make the media guess, draw their own conclusions, or connect the dots. Their job is to sell the story and the more sensational the better. They really won’t care if you don’t care.
- Choose a media format – It could be a press release, electronic media (the reality is that Facebook and Twitter will most likely break the story before you do). You must be in front of – and in control of – the message.
- Stick to the story – Once you’ve got your message, keep repeating it. Most people need to hear or see something three times before they absorb it completely. Make sure you leave the option open to expand the story as facts change.
- Pick a spokesperson – One person. This is important since not all CEOs make good spokespeople. Find one early and get them media training.
- Accept some losses – You will lose some revenues. Plan for the future.
- Get legal advice – The legality of the situation may come quickly. Trademarks and content could be questioned and challenged. Loss of protected customer data can lead to its own liabilities. In addition personal liability will almost certainly play a key role. Be ready and prepared.
- Get a plan organized sooner rather than later. Be ready, with all or part of it, as soon as the disaster is evident. The plan should consist of three components: Brand, Legal, and Communication, which are all valuable in maintaining control and market share.
These steps seem simple, and most organizations will rarely suffer from disasters, so planning for them can sometimes be a difficult exercise. However, as companies further attach themselves and their financial success to their brand, this task must be undertaken.
It is well worth the investment of time and money to have a proactive Reputation Management Plan in place and ready to go!
I am a trusted brand thought leader who delivers results to organizations seeking to develop their brand impact and growth. Brand health and growth is a necessity of a well-maintained and profitable organization.
Without a well-formulated strategic plan, Brand disasters and lost revenues are inevitable. My strengths are uncovering brand discrepancies and leveraging effective brand tools and messaging to develop effective meaningful communication that can aid in revenue generation.
I am well known for my continuous forward thinking and well-grounded strategic brand development advice.