“Those who are not prepared for crisis management pay a high price” | The Guardian Nigeria News

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Bukola Shobowale is the business leader of Quadrant MSL with over 10 years of experience in multiple industries including advertising, public relations and strategic communications. With a focus on harnessing data and ideas for strategic decision making, his work continues to influence the brand for better perception and desired impact. She has worked on a range of brands in different industries including manufacturing, consumer goods, financial services, tobacco, hospitality, technology, travel and government. In this interview with TOBI APODIPE, she talks about protecting reputation and managing expectations in risky industries, which influencers are good for a brand or not, and how one misstep can taint companies. years of hard work, among other issues.

Attention to brand reputation has grown over the years and is now the number one risk concern for executives. How important is a company’s reputation to its success?
A company’s reputation is its most valuable asset. It is the deciding factor of any credibility and an invaluable currency that generates leads, improves customer loyalty and generally increases business revenue. It is the way an organization is perceived and remembered by its stakeholders. According to a 2019 World Economic Forum study, on average, more than 25% of a company’s revenue and brand value is directly attributable to its reputation. This is why the reputation of companies is very delicate. It takes time to build, but can be destroyed in seconds. This has been further amplified by the digital age of information immediacy, as the brand’s reputation is constantly under threat, especially for high-risk consumer, pharmaceutical and aerospace industries, where transparency and transparency are under threat. liability is not negotiable.

Take the FMCG industry, for example, some key risks to business and product success lie in supply chain and distribution, product quality, consumer health, and product advertising. If managed properly, they can ensure the success of a business. However, if they are poorly managed without the right strategies, they can harm the business, especially if the necessary systems are not in place, thus negatively affecting reputation immediately and in the long term.

What happens when a crisis arises and how would you advise leaders and communications experts to avoid or manage an organizational crisis effectively?
A crisis is a significant threat to a company’s operations that can negatively impact reputation if not managed properly. Any internal or external factor that can damage the reputation of your organization causes a loss of trust and poses a risk to the health, life and safety of your stakeholders can lead to a crisis. They say the best-managed crisis is the one that never happens. The truth, however, is that the crisis is happening. But I also like to say that a well-prepared and trained organization with established relationships is better equipped to protect itself, whatever the problem.

The easiest way to avoid a crisis is to simply plan for one in advance, including crisis communications in your risk management process. In the corporate world, the unprepared pay a high price. Crisis events are what risk analysts describe as “highly likely to happen”. So the real question is not whether a crisis will arise, but how quickly your organization will respond. As a result, when companies try to mitigate, but a crisis still occurs, they are judged on the speed, transparency and relativity of their responses. This is why a crisis management framework is necessary.

Is there a place for managing expectations? What role does it play in the reputation of companies and in crisis management?
Managing expectations plays a vital role in building a company’s reputation. When your organization has a clear idea of ​​the expectations of its stakeholders, it can gain a strategic advantage over its competitors by deploying nuanced communication techniques and dialogue aligned with current trends and the desires of its audiences. This helps foster a positive relationship between an organization and its stakeholders. Organizations are no longer at the center of the stakeholder map; rather, they are part of an interconnected network that requires increased sensitivity to developing events and stakeholder expectations.

Who in an organization is responsible for crisis management?
Each member of an organization is involved in crisis management, because each internal actor has a role to play in determining whether or not a problem escalates into a crisis. However, we generally recommend that you assemble a crisis response team when developing a crisis management framework. For example, for us, when we design a crisis management framework for clients, we create a section specifically for the Crisis Management Team (CMT) in what we call the Brand Protect Toolkit. In this section, we list the composition of the crisis team and designate the roles, according to the specific tasks of the function, while ensuring that the place of the PR agency is clearly indicated. For clarity, the CMT is responsible for guiding an organization through the process, from issue management to preparation and response, making it clear who the spokesperson is.

Each role has its stated duties and the approach to take in engaging the media. Internal stakeholders are also informed of the official response team and where to direct media inquiries. This proactive step already prevents the organization from unnecessary comments from unofficial company representatives or further aggravation of the problems.

In recent years, the use of influencers as a means to promote positive perception has been on the rise, what do you think?
Like reviews, influencers have become essential to brand building and reputation management by helping organizations to put their brand in a better light when tarnished. This concept is called social proof, and it is crucial to gather social proof for your brand, in order to build trust and credibility in the market. Word of mouth advertising can be persuasive enough, and the best part? It’s usually free. To make the most of this opportunity, organizations should build relationships with thought leaders or influencers and engage them as spokespersons when needed. People trust people.

However, to ensure that negative associations do not carry over to the corporate brand, it is important to find the ones that are at the heart of the industry or to work with an agency that understands the ropes, everything. by establishing the right policies for good management.

Another area of ​​debate is using agency services to manage an organization’s crisis. Isn’t an organization capable of managing crises on its own?
A simple but recommended tip that I always give is to leave it to the experts. No matter how skilled an organization’s communications department is, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by negative publicity and have to constantly monitor conversations about your brand across multiple channels. This can leave your internal team stretched out, slow to respond, and ineffective. One poorly worded tweet could be enough to tarnish years of reputation building. However, one or more experts, deploying well-established operating procedures, can help your organization to proactively and effectively engage stakeholders, thereby improving perception.

What advice do you have for business executives when it comes to protecting or managing reputation?
We are in an era of increased corporate accountability. It only takes one bad interaction to tarnish your brand’s reputation. Organizations need to work harder than ever to improve corporate image and market perception. You can make this work easier by understanding stakeholder expectations, proactively engaging, including crisis communications in risk management, and recruiting experts to address your blind spots.


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