Addressing Reputation Risk, Handling Media and What If?

Recently, something came to my attention that I just wanted, desperately, to write about – media and reputation. 

This is an issue that could easily be headlined differently – something really catchy but…I won’t be drawn into what I remember once as media’s goal of shocking its audience to draw attention to an article (yes, I know that a larger audience and readership equates to greater profitability, even with blogging) but I’m not a reporter or editor – only an insurance broker/risk management consultant.  Because my purpose is to educate, however, I will better explain my choice of titles and topics below.

Gay Pornography – does that now catch your attention?  I didn’t wish to headline this article as such but could have easily included in my title since that is how this article came about.  I’m sorry for my version of shock tactics but there was an incident that took place where gay pornography was being broadcast, errantly, in place of regular television programming.  I don’t know if 3 minutes is an accurate amount of time but some media reported it as such – during a cable company’s daytime broadcast schedule (apparently, this was not the fault of the television station but that is still to be determined).  Now that I have explained, let’s commence with my purpose.

Why do I wish to write about this topic or, for that matter, reputation?  Well, I know how difficult it may be to avoid any and every risk in life – it is not reasonable or practical (though I did have a client who, for many years, described himself as “risk averse” and I still continue to wonder how his business remains profitable and expanding, if he truly is reluctant to assume any risk in business). 

What I want to highlight is how reputation and media risk can be handled differently by various individuals or businesses.  The incident that came to my attention did pique my Risk Management curiosity, especially when I read where a similar event like the above recently occurred, in another locale, and was curtailed in a very short timeframe (I read 30 seconds!). 

Did someone, as we say, fall asleep at the switch?  Was the system hacked into?  How could this have taken so long for anyone, working, to notice?  Was there negligence by an employee and/or management?  How will broadcast authorities now respond?  What about the audience?  What feedback will be caused and will there be financial losses due to advertiser(s) being upset and choosing other forms of marketing?  Will the advertiser(s) see adverse feedback from their own customers and, if so, will they seek recourse for financial and reputation claims from the cable broadcaster and/or television station?  You will now see that Risk Management entails a lot of questions – not all have simple responses but require considerable thought, contemplation and planning for what we all hope will never occur.

Let’s imagine any business facing a catastrophe of any kind and then how one is to address the media onslaught (did I forget to mention that the above happening was reported almost instantaneously, online?).  This should be the single most important lesson to be learned by my writing about this.  In somewhat recent local history that I recall, a manufacturer had a disgruntled employee enter the work premises, armed, and subsequently shot some co-workers, injuring and killing people.  Immediately, there occurred bedlam, media frenzy, with the police and emergency personnel responding.  Have you heard of Twitter and Google +?  Imagine your company’s name being mentioned negatively hundreds of thousands of times in a matter of minutes on Social Media! 

By having a plan of action, you could be prepared for the adverse publicity created by such an event and neutralize or maybe even generate positive attention by being pro-active in your management of such an unlikely but potential calamity.

Another incident a number of years ago was the situation with Tylenol.  The manner in which they addressed it – let me remind you that there will always be significant costs associated with any choice in your plan of action – was unique at that time and may now form the template for proactively handling similar events.  Your reputation should be the most important issue when deciding how your company will appear, following the public’s scrutiny and review, and Tylenol did exactly that – they considered their Brand and the value it had.  This will determine your overall future profitability!  You will need to assess the financial and non-financial damage which could impact lender lines of credit, regulatory agencies, sales by competitors, etc.  If you don’t agree that your reputation is of paramount importance in any decision you make or don’t choose to make then why not brand yourself generically?

By planning for the unknown (and, hopefully, what won’t ever take place), one must decide who the best professionals will be and take the necessary steps to devise a plan of action, in conjunction with your senior management personnel, accounting and legal professionals, PR experts, insurance providers, etc.  Why not let me assist you in determining who is best suited to assist your business?  I work with many key professionals who I gladly recommend in the fields of expertise they operate and I work in conjunction with them.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: