(Based on whitepaper written for ImageGUARD™ from The Gibraltar Group) Behind the visible attributes of every product and service sold in our economy is an invisible value. It’s reputation, and it can simultaneously be the hardest value to acquire and the easiest to lose.

With the delivery of products or services according to all expectations comes the willingness and confidence of individuals to buy what you have to sell. When all is working right, today’s highly technological environment can make you an overnight success. Yet, if something goes wrong, the same rapid communications makes managing reputation even more difficult. What negative comments people make about a person or an organization one day just might end up in social media the next few minutes, rather than traditional media the next day.

With the increasing amount of challenges faced in protecting reputation today and a matching level of exposure received, there needs to be a more defined sense of control.

Business leaders tend to focus more on the short-term cost than the long-term impact, when facing a problem or incident. However, at the end of the day, how organizations are viewed by their constituents often has a greater impact on a company’s ability to survive than the financial factors might suggest.

To prepare for a crisis, the time is now to develop a strategic plan for what you and your organization will do when facing threatening reputational risks. The following is a framework a company or organization can follow in order to help better protect their reputation:

  • Conduct a risk analysis
  • Identify key participants in an image protection program
  • Take corrective measures to eliminate or reduce risks that can be controlled
  • Create and exercise a practical issues and crisis response plan before it’s needed
  • Establish or enhance awareness and a culture for protecting your organization’s reputation

Whether you’re facing a Tylenol tampering case like Johnson & Johnson or recovering from a $2.15 billion market loss from an ill-fated resignation letter delivered in the “New York Times” like Goldman Sachs, it’s about being proactive in reputation risk management.

About the Author

Blake D. Lewis III, APR, Fellow PRSA is a senior consultant who leads The Gibraltar Group’s reputation management team. As principal and senior consultant at Lewis Public Relations, Blake contributes to the development, delivery and assessment of The Gibraltar Group programs, products and services that assist public, private and nonprofit organizations in maximizing overall reputational value, and minimizing or eliminating potentially negative impacts of course-of-business events on organizational image.

ImageGUARD™ is a joint venture of Gibraltar Risk and Lewis Public Relations. To learn more about The Gibraltar Group, visit the company’s homepage at www.gibraltarrisk.com.

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