The best way to answer this is to think about what would happen if you did irreparable damage to your reputation through your actions or poor public relations.

At recent presentations, I have been asking people to consider the damage that can be caused through mismanaging a reaction to theft or fraud within an organisation.  Not being upfront about what has happened; not apologising to people who have been harmed; and not reassuring people that preventative measures have been put in place, can cause serious reputational damage and fallout for the business.

The consequences might include less trust and confidence from current customers; fewer referrals; staff resignations; less revenue; less public support in a future crisis … and even a catastrophic impact on your personal life.

Protecting and enhancing your reputation really is a serious business. It should be considered in everything you do in your company, from how you treat your customers to your HR policies and health and safety procedures. As well as being good for business today, it will help protect you from any major challenges to your reputation in the future.

To shore up your organisation for potential reputational crises, it is a good idea to look at where your greatest risks lie and doing as much as you can to mitigate them. While issues such as insecure data and poor engagement with customers are relatively universal problems, other risks are more industry specific. For example, maintaining a strong reputation for health and safety will require much more work in a warehouse than it will in an accountancy firm.

Having a pre-prepared crisis communications plan will go a long way to helping you preserve your reputation when the chips are down. While you won’t be able to plan for every eventuality, you’ll have the bones of a strategy to help you respond swiftly and effectively when the time comes.  Key elements of this plan should include an easily accessible, up-to-date contact list for all staff, support services, and clients; a hierarchy for contacting people during specific crises; and identified media spokespeople.

A Public Relations company with expertise in crisis communications will be able to assist you to prepare your plan and be there to support you if it is ever needed.