By: Ayad Nahas- Communication Strategist
Having worked at a number of leading firms in the Middle East, I realized that Crisis Communication and Reputation Management are two concepts that have not yet bloomed to become part of an all-encompassing communication strategy.
Most companies have a tendency of implementing a reactive approach when dealing with a crisis by only responding to a given publication when faced with negative publicity, as they feel this approach is the safest to upkeep their own perception and reputation.
It is important to note that a company’s most valuable asset which shapes its reputation vis a vis stakeholders is its perception i.e. the image that is formed about a firm in the minds of its shareholders and customers.
Accordingly, companies should always strive towards having sustained media presence while promoting all their positive attributes and achievements, as part of a comprehensive marketing and crisis communication strategy which educates the public at large about their successes, values, and mission.
Even at a time of crisis, firms should promote all the policies they are introducing to stay afloat in order to keep their stakeholders informed. This is extremely crucial, for both publically traded companies across the region as well as those in the private sector, to gain shareholder confidence.
The most effective strategy for companies to communicate, either through a thriving economy or a downturn, is by utilizing the relevant social media channels, as well as conventional (print and broadcast) media outlets. Both mediums are considered by business leaders today as vital sources where they can be informed about the latest happenings and promote their endeavors.
It is advisable for companies to develop sustained and comprehensive crisis communication and media relations guidelines that would be followed stringently in order to significantly minimize the risk of negative publicity. These should be vital components of an overall communication approach and direction.
Such an approach should include a social media crisis communication strategy to deal with many problematic scenarios. For example, when faced with an angry customer on Facebook, where heated debates are very common, it is very important to educate one’s audience by stating all the facts, rather than take a bullish, aggressive approach to prove them wrong.
The notion of crisis communication should not make companies wary of negative consequences. Any major crisis which is handled favorably is, most often than not, followed by an increase in stakeholder confidence.
In conclusion, coherent marketing and corporate communication strategies help in building positive reputations and shaping favorable perceptions. This accordingly provides businesses with the communication tools to thrive.