MarCom Corner: Reputation Management

January 10th, 2013
David Weismann,a.k.a the "PR Bulldog."

MarCom Corner is a regular feature that brings you tips, insights and answers from your fellow Chamber members on marketing and communications topics. David Weismann, director of public relations for R&R Partners Arizona, has advice you'll hopefully never need: making sure your PR team knows the whole story when your business is in "crisis mode."

Reputation management is essential to any business’s brand, regardless of your company’s size. If you work with a public relations professional, it is critical that you establish a trusting relationship with that person so that if your business goes into crisis, your communications team is playing with a full deck. The media relies on your communications professionals to provide accurate information and their reputations are on the line. What you never want is the media confronting your PR team with facts that conflict with the information you have given them. Even if you think you’re protecting your business, what you’re really doing is jeopardizing your reputation in the media for the future. 

So, what can you do to make sure your PR team is playing with a full deck when your business goes into crisis?

  • Don’t shoot from the hip. Use your PR team as your first line of defense with the media. They will ask you the tough questions so they and you are armed with all of the information necessary. They’ll prepare you to face the media so the story is reported presenting your position in the most positive light. Be transparent with your team. They are pros and will help you communicate. 
  • Make sure you bring the right resources to the table. If your business is dealing with a controversial issue, you may need more than your communications team. A solid crisis response requires the attention of the CEO, legal team, marketing team and other specialists when appropriate, like government affairs.
  • Learn from this experience for the next time. Businesses that operate in crisis from a plan are often better able to extinguish the crisis quicker. Utilize your communications professionals to anticipate potential crises that could impact your business and have them devise a plan which addresses issues like notification to top executives, legal team, insurance company; establishment of a key spokesperson, notification to customers, continued flow of information, loss compensation, etc. At the end of the day, you will be judged not on the crisis itself, but how you responded to your customers and in the media. 
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R&R Partners Arizona 
This story, written by David Weismann, is part of the Chamber's monthly Businessdriver email newsletter. To sign up for any or all of the Chamber's email communications, click here

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