Thanks to rapid advances in technology news today can spread around the world in less than 30 minutes.
This can put companies on the back foot in terms of their preparation to deal with an unexpected crisis that has befallen their organization. As a consequence, they must mobilize a rapid response system in order to preserve their most precious asset - their reputation.
Mickey Driver, External Relations Advisor, Cheveron USA Inc, says that full and open transparency are not attributes to be reserved for times of crisis but should be employed by a company each and every day.
Driver is a speaker at the marcus evans Crisis Communications in Oil and Gas event taking place in May 18-19, in Houston.
A harsh reality exists that a company’s reputation is easily lost and not easily won back, he warns.
“In a crisis situation, it is even more so. Credibility is hard earned and easily lost. Beginning with your first communications you should be as open and honest as possible. Details will eventually come out about what has happened.
“If you are the one who provides the information first you gain credibility and at least some appreciation for trying to be forthright. If you have third parties providing information you should have, and could have provided, then you have lost the ability to be heard and shape the stories.”
With the changing media landscape now comprising print media, social media, bloggers, etc a one size fits all strategy is not adequate, he says.
“Understanding each media outlet, and reporters’ needs, help you determine what kind of approach to use. Electronic media want audio and video, they want an interview, and they have deadlines a couple of times a day. Print usually wants more detail and historical information.
“Social media are online 24/7. The use of email and mobile phone has made it easier to stay in touch with the media that matter most. Being proactive and letting them know you are available, sending them news releases and media advisories in a timely manner and providing information that you can is a good way to establish communications.”
Driver shares some important lessons about damage limitation and rebuilding reputations and brands through crisis communications.
“Your reputation is easily lost and it is not easy to get it back. To minimize loss of reputation you need to respond quickly to an incident. You need to be open and honest and say you are sorry if you have done something wrong. You need to listen to the community and address their concerns. You need to put yourself in the place of those affected and try to understand what they are thinking,” he adds.
The marcus evans Crisis Communications in Oil and Gas Conference will take place in May 18-19, in Houston, TX.
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