Reputation management is a particular passion for me.  I help my clients become reputation resilient by thinking about how they will prevent incidents, mitigate damage and rebuild their reputation.  Here are 10 tips for reputation management from Jamie Watt from Navigator and my interpretation of them.

  1. Always respond. Silence is not golden.  In the past silence may have been a legitimate tactic but as Jamie notes, the internet has a long memory and if you don’t respond to allegations, your accusers’ allegations will live forever uncontested.
  2. Define or be defined. Each one of us is responsible for our own reputation – even corporations. If we don’t tell our story or give our side of the facts, others will shape the story in our absence.
  3. Lead with motive. Make sure that when you speak you know why and you are deliberately taking the discussion in a particular direction.
  4. It’s got to be someone’s fault. Remember, from the public’s perspective and generally from the media’s there must be someone who made the mistake/who caused the problem.
  5. Get others to tell your story. Having a fan base or third party experts who can tell your story credibly is a huge advantage when you are facing an issue. All too often organizations ignore the key preparation step of building and maintaining this community of support. Which leads to…
  6. It’s always in the planning, good planning. Sure accidents happen and detractors can attack from “left field” but for most organizations, the issues they are most likely to face are predictable and response strategies can be developed well before anything happens and without the stress of a real crisis.
  7. Speed kills. Timidity will be worse. Social media doesn’t allow us the luxury of time to craft a perfect message of response. Planning ahead will help reduce your response time and begin to manage the issue on your terms.
  8. Marcomm rules don’t work in a crisis. Crisis communication is not marketing communication. When responding to an issue, you want to get the facts out.  Marcomm can take a role in the rebuild once the crisis has passed.
  9. No one is smarter than the team. Crisis management is a team sport. The expertise assembled with your team should have all the information they need and be able to turn that intelligence to manage the situation.
  10. Always do right by doing right – authenticity matters. Or as I like to say, “no amount of spin can overcome bad policy.” If you try to manage a crisis with denial and obfuscation, it will come out and it will make a bad situation worse.