Reputation is now called “the new currency’ and as a person, a city, a country, an industry and an organization’s biggest asset and risk, since loss of it is dangerous. Reputation is an amorphous subject. It permeates everything we do. Whether you are a doctor, a businessperson, an employee, a scientist or a clergymen, you have a reputation. That reputation is created through your behavior and performance and is hard to build, sustain and protect.
To use an example ”If you lose your good name, who will trust you, or to look at it from another angle – “Your name will arrive at a destination long before you do, so best make sure you have a good name”, so the old adage goes. As Socrates (469 BC – 399BC), the philosopher said ‘Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of – for credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”
Through my work I sensitize and persuade individuals and audiences to take their own and their organization’s reputation seriously. I understand business reputation, how it is built, sustained, protected and repaired and know how to convey that so that audiences can fully grasp and understand their role in protecting this asset against unnecessary risk.
As a trusted adviser, I provide the following advisory services:
- Stakeholder Reputation Management Advisory Services
I work with clients to profile stakeholders and establish ways and means to better engage, communicate and create working and lasting relationships with them. Services range from coaching executives how to deal with stakeholders to gap analysis and the facilitation of workshops to raise understanding of stakeholder management.
- Reputation Risk
I work with clients to protect them against reputational risk. Services include the provision of strategic advice, diagnosis of issues, problems and incidents as well as the design and writing of reputation risk management frameworks, policies and procedures – See the work I did for Vodacom.
- Crisis Management & Communication Consulting
Crises can happen anywhere anytime and often happen when we least expect them.
Some crises fizzle out, whilst others can get a life of their own and seriously disrupt or challenge a businesses’ continuation.
In today’s interconnected and always on world, stakeholders expect of companies to show concern and caring, act swiftly and decisively to deal with both the perceptions created during a crisis and the actual reality of the crisis and to communicate what and how they are acting.
This implies…Many years of research and ground experience show that the companies who do best in a crisis are those who have prepared to weather the storm. To quote myself: “ Noah built the ark seven days before it rained”…but he had divine wisdom passed onto him.
A Crisis contains the highest potential to destroy a company’s reputation, brand and share value. How a company reacts and communicates, improves perceptions and speeds recovery.
A reputation is probably the single most important asset an organization owns. You rarely get a second chance to avert a crisis. It is crucial that you have in place a crisis capability such as a crisis management plan and the know-how to hopefully avoid, plan for and act, when a crisis arises.
“Crisis in the Chinese language is represented by two characters. One symbolizes danger: the other opportunity.”
If I had the opportunity to address a Board of Directors about the need for adequate crisis response planning and emergency preparation, there are only six points we would discuss, and the discussion would take just a few minutes. They are:
1. How surviving the first two hours of an emergency or disaster can save assets, markets, and reputations.
2. How poorly handled crises can end careers. The Ford Bridgestone tyre withdrawal, the 1999 contamination of Coca-Cola in Europe and the BP Gulf of Mexico crisis all ended the career of the companies’ Chairpersons/CEO’s and are excellent high-profile examples.
3. Why the expectations of outsiders and various stakeholders will control the perception of how a crises is managed.
4. How handling a crisis insensitively, or not at all, can escalate visibility, cost, and reputational damage. (Look up Dow- Corning’s handling of the breast implant disaster).
5. Why what the Board says and does and when it is said and done will profoundly affect the organization’s reputation for some period after the crisis subsides.
6. How Social Media has changed the Crisis Management & Communication landscape and why prior preparation to communicate in nano- seconds is vital.
The single purpose for preparing to manage the unplanned visibility caused by a crisis is to survive the first few seconds, minutes, hours, and perhaps day or two of the problem – if indeed it lasts that long. The greatest inaccuracy, misinformation, and error occur during this very early time frame. In fact, most communications energy following this early phase will focus on the correcting errors, mistakes, and misperceptions created at the beginning of the problem.
Fortunately, with a modest amount of preparation, practice, and assignment of roles and tasks, early miscues can be minimized and corrected. That means less damage to reputation, credibility, and employee morale. When bad news occurs, there are critical audiences, including your own employees, who have expectations of your behavior and ability to manage problems. Every one of your stakeholders will focus on your organization’s response. How it acted, what it said, all of these will either add or distract from the organization’s reputation.
The reality and the perceptions created during the crisis need to be addressed. Experience have taught the importance of foresight and preplanning. A Crisis Response and Communication Plan is a blue print of what processes and actions needs to kick in depending on the type of crisis facing the organization.
Crises have two components namely the perceptual and reality aspects of the crisis. I work with a client BEFORE, DURING and AFTER a crisis on all aspects with the ultimate objective:
To protect the Company’s Reputation and maintain its hard-earned integrity.
I work with organizations to build their crisis management capability. This may entail :
- The writing and development of crisis management plans,
- Crisis communication protocols,
- Strategic advice,
- The coaching and counseling of leaders and;
- Training of Crisis team members and;
- The auditing of existing plans. (Plans range from emergency response plans to detailed communication plans).
- Organizational Development & Management Consulting
I provide general OD & management consulting services to organizations and professional consultancies ranging from strategic planning advice, performance enhancement, strategic communication to marketing assistance and social media strategy implementation.
The list of consulting examples below shows the range of capabilities that I bring to the table:
Large Scale Project Example
- Provided strategic advice & training as well as developed and wrote the Crisis Communication plan for the 2011 South African Census (Statistics SA). Statistics SA needed a Crisis Management Capability during the 2011 Census that would assist the Senior Team to protect the organization fine reputation by being able to respond effectively & efficiently to incidents, issues, requests and potential crises. I assisted the Department over a 4 month period to develop and implement a Crisis Management & Communication Response plan and protocols which was supplemented with the training of senior executives and managers in Crisis leadership and Crisis Communication management skills as well as on-going coaching and rendering of advice. There was a significant improvement in incident and issue reporting and potential Reputation Risk was mitigated effectively & efficiently. Potential crisis events were minimized through anticipation and appropriately communicated and handled with minimal negative publicity and reputation fallout.
Other Assignment Examples
- Research, development and delivery of more than 100 conference presentations in 15 countries based on client needs, research & briefs inc. China, Australia, Singapore & Malaysia.
- Worked with the Risk Committee of an international telecommunications firm (Vodacom) to design, develop and write a Reputation Risk Management Framework and embed it into their Enterprise Wide Risk Management system. This process included action and literature research as well as interviews with key executives and the identification of potential reputation risk incidents.
- Provided strategic input to a number of organizations including four banks on their Reputation Risk Management strategies.
- Design, Development and delivery of a variety of training courses, policies and procedures aimed at building, sustaining, protecting and restoring corporate reputation.
- Provided strategic counsel and executive support related to employee, media and other stakeholder reputation management issues to a wide variety of organizations.
- Facilitated more than 25 Stakeholder Reputation Management Masterclasses that have been attended by senior management from Government & Industry in Southern Africa; and have trained more than 23 CEO’s in reputation strategy matters.
- Rewrote an ISO based Health & Safety consultancy’s emergency response plan template and protocols after international research and benchmarking.
- Provided Health & Safety management training for more than 15 years on behalf of an Occupational Health & Safety Compliance agency that is ISO 9001: 2000 certified and registered as a Proudly South African firm.
- Conducted Employee Stakeholder Perception Audits in conjunction with overseas consultancies in the alluvial diamond and gold mine industries.
- Provided consulting advice and insight to a number of consultancies with their strategic consulting marketing approaches and plans. I have facilitated Marketing your Consulting Practice workshops for 19 years.
- Trained and advised more than 5000 entrepreneurs on how to run and manage their small businesses effectively.
Because your Reputation Matters, I am available to assist you to build, sustain and protect your hard-earned reputation.
Call me with your need and I will try and assist. If I cannot help you, I will signpost you to someone who can.