An organisation’s reputation amongst its clients or customers, and in the marketplace in general, can be one of its most valuable assets.

However, reputation may not be explicitly recognised in the organisation’s risk management program, and as a result key risks to the business objectives may be overlooked.

Suffering a business interruption or crisis of any sort which impacts on the normal delivery of the organisation’s services/goods will have a subsequent reputational impact, either negative or positive.  The 2012 Brisbane floods, and various organisations’ responses to it, highlighted this issue locally. Depending on the type of organisation, there are many other crisis events which can have serious reputational impacts.

Clearly, prevention is better than cure, and these issues should be considered during normal risk management processes and controls put in place for the identified risks.

However, it is also useful to consider strategies for the restoration of reputation after a crisis has been suffered.

Such strategies include:

  1. Achieve closure – ensure that the crisis which produced the reputational damage is appropriately, and transparently, resolved. This will involve detailed investigation (potentially by a third party if warranted) and publication of the outcomes (including details of what happened, causes, and corrective and preventative measures taken).
  1. Avoid a repeat performance – the organisation will need time to recover from the reputational damage, and a second crisis following on from the first (whether from the same or other causes) will scupper the recovery. Therefore, immediately review the risk register and undertake a fresh risk identification exercise to ensure that no risks with reputational impacts have been overlooked, and that appropriate mitigation is in place.
  1. Learn from the event – review all systems, procedures and plans and implement improvements based on the learnings stemming from the investigation.
  1. Demonstrate learnings – be open and positive in your communications while accepting responsibility. Show your clients/customers and other affected parties that there is a genuine effort to improve operations and prevent any similar events in future. Communicating quickly and effectively during and immediately after an event avoids rumours and builds confidence amongst stakeholders. Look for opportunities to use the learnings from negative event as a catalyst for growth.

Please contact QRMC for more information.