According to Wikipedia, “Best practices can also be defined as the most efficient (least amount of effort) and effective (best results) way of accomplishing a task, based on repeatable procedures that have proven themselves over time for large numbers of people.”

There are best practices for identifying and mitigating reputation risk in different types of companies as well as best practices for managing reputation as an asset. Please note that not every environment or every company is the same. Your unique environment may require different configurations in order to provide the best protection results. If you have questions about your environment and would like some guidance on mitigating reputation risk, please contact deonbin@icon.co.za

Like all of the intangible assets whose value has escalated in recent years (other examples are talent, knowledge, know- how and intellectual property), reputation has often been overlooked by organisations because it is so difficult to comprehend.

It is only when a reputation incident severely damages the credibility of an organisation or one of its brands, or its standing in the eyes of its stakeholders, that the potentially catastrophic consequences of not managing the crisis properly become apparent.

Studies of organisations that have handled crises affecting their reputation badly have identified long term and irreparable damage to share price, market share and brand value.Many organisations make the mistake of assuming that all that is needed is media training and crisis planning. However, a reputation crisis exposes to public and media scrutiny not only the organisation's competence at crisis handling, but the values, standards and shortcomings that existed beforehand.

The reputation best practice strategy should, therefore, have two simple objectives - to prevent the causes that could damage your reputation, and to minimise the impact if, despite your best endeavours, a reputation crisis should occur.

Here is a partial list of some of the best practices to consider:

  • Develop ways to understand the nature of your reputation
  • Design & develop a reputation risk management strategy that can act as a roadmap for strengthening risk management in particularly vulnerable areas
  • Work together with PR, Risk and Compliance departments to close gaps
  • Develop standards and controls for the action that the strategy places most importance on
  • Learn how to proactively manage elements of reputations - Provide reputation management training, education and communication to obtain the vital support and commitment of your employees and managers
  • Design analysis and monitoring mechanisms to provide early warning of problems or crises
  • Develop a process of continuous crisis assessment
  • Conduct regular crisis planning and testing
  • Ensure regular reporting and monitoring of reputation risk, including incident analysis, issue management, environmental forecasting and online reputation monitoring.

Some organisations have attempted part of this best practices process themselves, particularly the first few stages. In my experience, they are severely disadvantaged by being too close to the issues, or by risking avoiding taboo or politically difficult areas, or by not challenging assumptions vigorously or objectively enough.

If you would like to learn more about best practices in building, managing and protecting corporate reputation, why not get me to run one of our learning interventions internally?  e-mail reputationeducation@icon.co.za

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