Universities today seem to be more vulnerable than ever to reputational crises. Not only are they educational and research institutions, but they are also home to major athletic programs, Greek life communities, alumni organizations and political groups. It is all of these stakeholders that make universities not only strong but also vulnerable to the unexpected event that could cause significant damage to the institution’s reputation.
Chick-fil-A wisely halted sales of its Chocolate Chunk Cookies when its supplier, CSM Bakery Solutions, informed it that the cookies contained a trace of peanuts in them. That’s in contrast to dietary information it supplies to customers at its restaurants and online that the cookies are peanut-free.
In potential crisis situations, UNOS invokes a crisis communications plan and involves UNOS executive staff members and elected officers.
Every day, another organization finds its way into the headlines embroiled in a once-preventable crisis that threatens its reputation, financial health, even its very survival. In this age of instant global communication, no organization is immune. Entire companies and their stakeholders can suffer from the consequences of poor decisions made by people at every level of the organization. Often, powerful cultural influences in an organization disguise the warning signs that can identify smoldering issues that spell disaster.
When you’re putting together preparations for the possibility of a crisis, internal communications is usually not the first thing to come to mind. But it’s an essential part of crisis response preparedness; you must loop in employees, owners, board members, investors and the wider community (including the families and business associates of all the above) if you want to maintain your reputation.
With April 18 looming, we certainly expected to be conversing about income tax this time of year. But who could have predicted the words “Panama Papers,” “Mossack Fonseca” and “tax inversions” would be rolling off our tongues during last weekend’s barbeque?
With 11 million documents under scrutiny by the world’s journalists, it seems a safe bet that more shoes will drop, perhaps implicating brands doing business in Russia, Iceland or Argentina. The question for brand communicators is what to do now? We have some answers.
Nearly half of the communicators surveyed in a poll conducted earlier this month said their organizations lack a crisis communication playbook.
Credit is due to ad agency J. Walter Thompson and WPP for surpassing our advice on their crisis. A new CEO with a new vision, backed up by JWT’s new documentary focused on the achievements of female pioneers and leaders, all add up to an earnest response to an ugly public relations moment.
C-level execs, especially board members, rightfully are becoming more concerned and aware. The rivers of data flowing underneath businesses they run are at legitimate risk. The damage from breaches can run into the hundreds of millions of dollars when totaling the financial impact of what comes with a breach today: customer and activist investor lawsuits, initial and ongoing investigations and the strain on technological and human capital.