Financial Services

When companies plan for their next potential crisis, they often turn their attention to what can be seen, heard and experienced first-hand. Fire safety, terrorism and airline disasters always make the short list. What many companies do not realize is that some of the most damaging crisis can arise from a lack of preparation and often inaction on issues that can have a measureable impact on their brand. Identifying and preparing for these “soft issues” can pay dividends later – not only in keeping a consistent brand message, but by taking the lead on key issues while the competition remains silent.

The nature of these “soft issues” varies greatly by industry. For investment management firms, they should be developing a messaging architecture now to address a rise in interest rates that many predict for the fall season. For consumer retail, leaders should spend this summer developing strategies and tactics to deal with cyber security attacks that are almost guaranteed to come along with the holiday shopping season. Others should be on watch for potential shareholder activism, pending legislation, litigation, environmental regulation and hot button issues affecting the communities in which they operate. 

When it comes to a reputational crisis, what you don’t know can hurt you, and a little planning goes a long way. Even if a comprehensive plan has been developed, messaging and tactics may be painfully out of date by the end of the second quarter. One best practice that has proven effective is conducting a Reputational Audit. This is a process that examines every point of reputational exposure in an organization, prioritizes according to risk factors and assigns resources to develop messaging and internal alignment. From employee behavior or corporate governance, it always worth the effort to know what’s lurking behind the next corner, and prepare your organization for the next crisis. 

Michael J. Goodwin

Senior Vice President, Financial and Professional Services

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