By Nick Johnson - March 6th, 2012
Hi everyone, The first day of our Crisis and Reputation conference was yesterday and day two is about to kick off. We already have an awful lot of best practice that I wanted to share with you f...
The first day of our Crisis and Reputation conference was yesterday and day two is about to kick off. We already have an awful lot of best practice that I wanted to share with you from the event. By the way, if you want to follow the discussions live, just check out the conference hashtag - #rpcc12.
Reputation is a lot more resilient than you think
Paul Fox, Director of External Relations at Procter & Gamble was one of the first speakers to take the stage. In a very illuminating speech, one thing that stuck in the mind was his declaration that reputation isn't as fragile as is often made out.
Sure, crises have an impact. Sure, an anti-P&G Twitter campaign will not escape the notice of the board (and it's sure to get blood pressure up, too). But these things aren't permanent. As long as a company has a response - and genuinely works to resolve issues - then crises will end. You don't need to reinvent your company - or throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just keep responding, keep trying to get over the problem - and it will happen.
Eric Dezenhall, the session moderator, also pointed out that crises tend to end outside of the news cycle. The press will jump in when a company is facing a crisis (and will tend to talk not just about the crisis, but also, inevitably, about the mismanagement of said crisis by the corporation - whether it's justified or not) but they simply do not report on the longer-term recovery and rehabilitation of a brand. Look at Toyota, or Audi. No-one in the US would have bought an Audi a couple of years ago - and Toyota was vilified after their forced product recall. But both companies are doing pretty well now...
Twitter is how we first spot crises
Linda Rutherford, VP of Communications and Strategic Outreach at Southwest Airlines gave a very thorough and in-depth presentation on how the company has reacted to crises and issues over the last couple of years. One of the key takeaways from her presentation was the statement that Twitter is how the company often first spot crises.
Social networks are a fantastic early warning tool for those with the right listening skills, and can really help corporations to react first and minimise the fallout from any crisis or potential crisis.
I did a short interview with Linda which I'll post on the blog once I'm back in the UK office.
Social breeds authenticity and transparency
A final observation - it is noticeable from the openness and transparency of our speakers quite how much the corporate comms approach to crisis has changed. We've wanted to run a conference on this topic for many years now, and this is the first time we've really felt able to do so. I feel the advent of social media has had a lot to do with that. As social has become a tool for companies to engage with stakeholders, so transparency is forced upon them. The common refrain is a need to be authentic and open, right? And it seems - from the commitment from our speakers to discuss the bad, as well as the good - that this focus on openness has spread throughout businesses. I think it's a good thing - for stakeholders, and the companies themselves.
Last thing - my favourite quote of the day - from Eric Dezenhall:
"Crisis planning is a therapeutic, not strategic, activity"
It's not the most reassuring message - but it's certainly worth thinking about. You can't plan for everything...
More to come from today's sessions later on.