If my client's reputation takes a hit because of scandal, supplier problems or a reorganization (hopefully not related to my work), what can I do to help restore it?
We are fortunate if our clients escape hits to their reputation from the kind of causes you cite, or from any of a number of smaller events. In the case of a major crisis, many companies can use the services of a PR or crisis management firm. However, your value as a consultant in any area is enhanced by contributing your knowledge of client strategy, operations and culture to a plan for reputation recovery.
Responsibility for managing a crisis and preventing damage to or restoring a company's reputation generally falls to the CEO or Board. Even if you do not work for either of these, your client may well be called on to participate in any recovery plan. Global PR and communications firm Burson-Marsteller surveyed companies to come up with the following list of restoration strategies and how you might help (in order of importance):
- Issuing an apology from the CEO (you might help provide data or draft messaging points)
- Committing itself to better corporate citizenship (you might suggest a change in strategy or processes to better engage the community or customers)
- Providing crisis information on the company's Web site (same as above to contribute in your area of expertise)
- Hiring a new CEO (tread carefully as you provide your opinion, if asked)
- Hiring an outside auditor to perform internal audits (you may be able to provide these services or participate in the audit)
Imagine a crisis that is typical of your client's industry and think about what you could do in each of the above to help. Tip:
Read The Road to Reputation Recovery
for some quick perspective and suggestions of how you can participate in rescuing a client's image. This won't make you an expert but it will sensitize you to how you might contribute some value.