Research prior to or early on in a crisis, says Bill Dalbec of APCO Insight, sets a baseline for the enterprise’s image, awareness of the crisis issues, recall of the issues and impact of the issues; research during and after the crisis measures the impact on the enterprise’s reputation and associated business outcomes. Here are some examples from Dalbec of what opinion research can provide:
• Understanding current perceptions and attitudes toward the enterprise;
• Determining awareness of the issues involved;
• Uncovering the language used by stakeholders to help guide development of public messages;
• Evaluating an enterprise’s story line and isolating the most powerful messages in protecting its reputation;
• Identifying emerging issues as the crisis unfolds and how the messaging may need to be refined;
• Connecting the enterprise’s reputation with specific business outcomes such as giving the enterprise the benefit of the doubt in litigation or a crisis situation; and,
• Monitoring any escalation in negative attitudes toward the enterprise, its executives and products or services, and developing appropriate responses to mitigate these negatives.