Joan Jett may have put another dime in the juke box and sang in the 1980s how she loved rock ‘n roll, but she also sang how she didn’t give a D@%! about her reputation, boasting that if you did care about yours, “You’re living in the past, it’s a new generation.”
Indeed, it is a new generation, saturated with social media and Internet connectivity, where information – accurate or not – travels the globe at the speed of a click, and you’ll see your organization’s good reputation go up in flames if you aren’t prepared. What you need is a reputation management plant that accounts for the risks presented by social media. Here is a simple four-step process to help you be on guard against those who might wish your organization ill-will.
There is no way to predict which crisis you’ll face, but you can almost be sure there will be some crisis to face, and every crisis is a reputation management issue. Are you prepared to manage one? If social media isn’t accounted for in a crisis plan, you may manage the news media but be blinded sided by a Twitter or blog storm. Part of preparation is talking through a variety of “what if” situations with key members of the crisis team and also key leaders. Ask, “Does everyone know who is responsible for what?” And at the least, leaders should have an advance understanding of how potentially dangerous a social media storm is to your organization’s reputation, and how it would respond to counter a social media attack.
Park rangers stand atop fire towers located atop the highest hills and stare through binoculars looking for wisps of smoke. Why? Fires extinguished early are easy to manage. Who at your organization is the park ranger making sure your reputation doesn’t go up in flames? This means checking across social media channels at least first thing every morning and a quick glance before leaving for the day to make sure smoke hasn’t popped up. There are a number of useful tools to help with this, and many good free ones. I recommend a free solutions first before exploring paid options. Here are a few ideas to get your monitoring started:
For blogs and news:
This is evaluate the threat. There are a number of factors that determine the severity of a threat, such as:
- the intensity of the criticism or comment
- how broad the individual’s following or readership is
- how old the threat is
- how much traction it has gotten since it was posted
If these factors indicate the threat is low, then this may only need monitoring. Low threats can flash, however, especially if the person has a substantial following or continues to push his or her agenda to the point it begins to attract attention. Also, evaluate the nature of the attack. Is what the person is saying simply belligerent, inaccurate information that would attract little support, or is there a level of legitimacy in what is said? If legitimate and there is traction, then a response may be in order.
Responses can range from no response at all to a full-on response that may require the involvement of the CEO. The determining factor is to ask how much effort is needed to quell the situation. Always better to have slightly more resources than are necessary. The objective is to resolve the issue as quickly and as favorably as possible for all parties involved. However, in the end, some people have no interest in resolution, so the objective then is to resolve the situation in a way most favorable to the organization.
Bottom line is that an organization’s reputation directly impacts the bottom line, and if you don’t want to live in the past – as in extinct – then you’ll care a heck of a lot more for your corporate reputation than Joan Jett did hers.