Friday, June 12, 2009

Crisis? Prevention is better than cure

A huge amount of time is devoted to managing issues and crisis and their Public Relations impacts. Crisis is a huge waste of time and the costs are astronomic.

Today, the internet is making reputation risk management a much more significant area in need of attention. It is an area of practice that is developing fast.

Managing reputation risk is neither hard nor rocket science (but rocketeers do use risk management techniques). One issue avoided has two immediate benefits. It saves cost and expensive management time and it helps sustain reputation, goodwill and brand equity. Not a bad return for a few hours work.

This is not something to give to a fresher PR executive. It is a job for senior mangers and is at its best when undertaken with a professional external advisor (and I know a few who are good at it).

In past posts, I have covered the management discipline of risk management here and here.
There is a chapter in 'Online Public Relations' about it.

The methodology I have adopted comes straight out of the risk management models use in many other industries.

What I have not done is to provide a copy of a simple spreadsheet that can be used in risk management assessment and am happy to provide it to anyone who asks.

Essentially, a focus group convened to look at risk is invited to come up with thoughts about risks that may befall an organisation in a number of categories (see below). The process evaluates percived risk to help prioretise the deployment of budget and resources.

Each percived risk is assessed for likelihood and impact typically on a scale of 1 to 5. The result is multiplied and provides a risk factor. The higher the factor, the more likely the risk.

The PR team then come up with methods for mitigating the risk and then the focus group re-assess the risk to see how much risks can be mitigated and where the greatest effort (and risk avoidance budget) goes.

Of course who should do what, when and how to mitigate risk is integral to all risk management and it is helpful to have good data to support investment and activity.

Reputation, and importantly online reputation can and should be managed.

The types of risk that might be considered by a practitioner concerned with blogs, Twitter, discussion boards and all that stuff out there and online that is just about to come as a surprise:

Legislative change
Corporate change of direction
Change in requirement
Change in objectives
Change of output, outtake, outcome requirement
Change in publics/stakeholders
Added publics
Removed publics
Publics change
Implementation impact
Technology change
Content not available
New/changed opportunity
Unexpected change in team
Managment team
Technical team
Operations team
Competitor action
Competitors me-too actions
Management Directive
Delivery schedule
monitor, measurement, evaluation requirement
Corporate re-organisation
At board level
Departmental re-organisation
Problem not anticipated
Reputation/ethical issue
Corporate, brand, personnel crisis
Server down/overload
System attack/bug
Change in available resources
Vendor availability