Reputation Management & Damage Control
by Abbe Buck, HighVizpr.com
Most people use the internet and the broadcast media in our daily lives. Whether we get our morning news on Yahoo! or not, millions of people watch news, entertainment and other programming 24/7. Many of these same people among us are participating in online public discussion groups and starting their own web logs. This has made the Internet the people's forum - everyone contributes and every opinion counts. It has lead to more of a poltical “vox populi” (Latin for “voice of the people”) than we have seen in decades. This is what the daily newspaper used to do. But now, the news - good or bad, rumor or fact - travels faster on the Internet than any other medium.
Here is a leading example of this trend, which seems here to stay: As you may have noted in politics, the internet has quelled Dan Rather’s career as CBS News anchor (with the Bush National Guard ‘letter’ that was certainly mis-reported. This was not brought to the forefront by national “network” news, or on cable news networks, or on talk radio, but by “bloggers” (web-loggers, who have developed their own private “VOICE OF THE PEOPLE” websites. If you can read e-mail you can receive their opinion in your in-box, and it can topple an entire news organization when many band together as a United Front. One of the best examples is on americablog.com - anything you read is posted there!
It could happen to you!
Now think of this: a single unhappy customer, misinformed consumer, or disgruntled employee can spark an online and offline reputation disaster for your company. Having a Public Relations firm planning ahead to avert a potential PR disaster for your company before they become "breaking news" is a market savvy approach.
Putting an organizational PR “Battle Plan” in place:
When damaging news, derogatory rumors, or misinformation “catch fire” on the Internet. We advise that you have a communications person on your management team who is well-versed in a range of verticals. It will be this person’s job #1 to find out where the negative mention started, and to be able to counter as a spokesperson any negative statement or written word that has been picked up by media or on the internet. This person must quickly and effectively find every negative mention of your company online and offline, and immediately strike back with a (counter) strategy to safeguard your company or organization.
Damage Control – What should we do?
When a PR crisis erupts, it is important to execute a timely response to derogatory or misleading information about your company. Working closely with top management and communication staff to disseminate the corporate messages, personnel should quickly present your side of the story and direct audiences to favorable sources of information - dampening the flames and exposing the biases of your detractors.
In addition, to an assembled rapid-response team a PR crisis management website that explained a company’s position to the public and presents all favorable evidence, argument, and media coverage is a must have. The address of this website should be distributed to concerned audiences online through news, search engines, and other channels. Your selected PR firm’s job is to make sure that the public also had the opportunity to hear your company's side of the story before negative sentiments can take hold. This can also done with broadcast reporters and talk-show hosts, who “glom” onto any negotiable sentiment because it becomes top news. To respond is a must!
Media contacts and online Monitoring
While marketers and communicators specialists are in contact with the top media outlets, broadcast and print, your PR firm should also has an Online Monitoring team sweeping the Internet constantly, looking for any and all mentions of your company or organization. Concerned management must stay informed about the perceptions of their brand and the opinions of their customers, employees, and professional analysts online and in print.
» Abbe Buck, Publicist, firstname.lastname@example.org
HighViz Consulting Group
Description: A PR specialist in the fields of promotion
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