Posts Taged reputation-management

New report reveals companies failing to plan for communications response


How valuable is your reputation? Well, it seems to be low on the list of priorities according to a new report – Cyber Aftershock – from insurance broker Lockton. In its Cyber Security Report 2017, only 26% of companies involved their PR and communications teams in planning the response to a cyber breach.

While looking at cyber incidents, the key messages from the report apply equally to any sector or industry which is outward facing or who values their reputation.

You only have to look at reputational damage caused by recent high-profile cyber incidents, as well as computer failures, to see why it is important that boards and technical teams embrace the fact that PR and communications need to be involved in the response planning.

Bringing them in after an incident is too late as it immediately puts you on the back foot. Just as the IT and HR departments will have a plan, there needs to be a PR and communication strategy in place covering aspects such as stakeholder and customer responses, key communication channels and agreed messaging.

This makes sense when the report cites that fact that just under half of all UK business in the last year had at least one cyber breach rising to 66% for medium sized and 68% for large businesses. When a breach happens the regulators will ask about your response and how you communicated so it is important to have a fully integrated strategy.

As you never know when a crisis will strike, CM Consultants is experienced in offering practical advice in preparing your communication response and running scenarios to ensure you can give a robust response should an incident occur.

Our experience team, based across the UK, can provide a 24/7 response to support existing teams or become your media team while you concentrate on responding to the business challenge an incident has caused.

British Airways’ torrid weekend gives valuable lesson for crisis media management


“You can’t put a price on reputation” was how the BBC’s transport correspondent Richard Westcott ended his report into the IT meltdown suffered by British Airways over the Bank Holiday weekend.

The journalist’s point provides a valuable insight for any public facing organisation about how it should manage a crisis when it hits.

Watching the events unfold over the weekend it seemed as if BA had learnt nothing from the media drubbing it took when the opening of Terminal 5 turned to chaos in the face of a luggage system failure.

Over this Bank Holiday weekend no senior executive of the airline faced the media to explain the problem with reports repeatedly saying that “No one was available from BA”.

There was a short statement put on YouTube from the chief executive which should have been supplementary to facing the media. In fact it was not until Monday, that the BBC noted that BA’s chief executive had “broken cover three days after the problems started”.

It seemed as if the company was not in control of the situation and it became a major element of the news story that they had recently moved the IT support offshore while making most of the UK-based IT team redundant. The media also relied on anecdotal stories from travellers who also made it seem as if communication within the company had failed.

In these situations, no matter how difficult, a senior member of the management team should be made available to the media and appear to be transparent in explaining the problem and the steps being taken to get travellers on their way. It almost felt as if there was in fact no crisis media plan in place. For the media, the story became about how communication within the company had failed.

When Talk Talk suffered its data breach in 2015, CEO Dido Harding appeared frequently across all media to explain the problem and update on progress. It was showing leadership that she was prepared to face media scrutiny at a difficult time but realised the need to allay fears in order to protect the reputation and brand.

BA will have been severely damaged with compensation claims reported to be likely in the hundreds of millions. With more than 75,000 people affected and millions more watching and reading the news who will probably think twice about booking with the airline, the question posed about the price of a reputation will play out over the coming months.

What can be said is that a more proactive media response by BA could have minimised some of that cost.

Men of Straw?

Reputations can be destroyed in an instant

“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” – Benjamin Franklin.

The revelations about the gullibility of Sir Malcolm Rifkind or Jack Straw falling for an alleged media ‘sting’, illustrate that despite both having a combined political career spanning almost 80 years, their one moment of ‘madness’ has skewed whatever good either may have achieved during their parliamentary careers.

It also needs to be noted that Straw is facing a legal challenge about allegations over complicity in “extraordinary rendition”, which he denies.

Whatever happens in the days, months and years ahead, the perceptions about their standing is likely to be irrevocably damaged. It will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

This is despite the fact that Jack Straw practically did a tour of media outlets yesterday and didn’t hide away. Making himself available and putting across his side of the story will help to both minimise the damage and kill the story. Sir Malcolm was not so forthcoming and was doorstepped. This and his comments about being “self-employed” mean he’s had less control of the story though his decision not to stand at the next election was a pretty swift one.

People should never underestimate how quickly reputations can be destroyed. They join a potentially long list of parliamentarians who seem, if the price is right, to offer their services.

Of course, it is not illegal but shows how the rules regarding MPs and their consultancy activities need clarifying. I’m not sure Ed Miliband’s knee-jerk reaction will make any difference, particularly if the current wave of polls are to be believed, as he won’t be in a position to make his commitment a reality. If Labour fails to win the general election, or at least be the major coalition partner with Ed as PM, he will surely be replaced as leader and much of his personal policies made on the hoof replaced also.

Will these latest revelations make any difference to the outcome of the election? I remain unconvinced even though the media is getting excited, as it has been since the start of the year, with talk of UKIP, Green and SNP surges, the Lib Dems losing all but one seat, and the Tories and Labour being neck and neck.

Remember the last election, which was after the MPs expenses scandal and we heard how there would be a surge of independent candidates elected. We were told that there could even be personalities like Esther Rantzen in the House of Commons to keep a check on wrong doing.

It not only didn’t happen for Rantzen, who lost her deposit with just 4.4% of the vote, but it also didn’t happen for any of the other 334 ‘Independent’ candidates. What actually happened was that we saw some MPs who were themselves embroiled in the scandal even retain their seats!

In the weeks ahead as we move towards the full-blown election campaign there will no doubt be more ‘traps’ set for politicians and aspiring politicians. They are said to be done in the public interest and providing they are we should welcome and encourage such investigative journalism particularly in this age of transparency where reputation is everything.

As I hear more about Rifkind and Straw it brought to mind an interview I did, as a BBC journalist in Liverpool in the late nineties.

I questioned Jack Straw, who was Home Secretary at the time, for 15 minutes. Not only was it unusual to be given such one to one access to a Cabinet Minister, but the interview was highly illuminating and it was decided to broadcast it in its entirety as he covered everything from Bulger to Hillsborough to Ian Brady.

The one thing that has remained with me more than 15 years later is he asked for the recording equipment to be switched off when he wasn’t too keen to answer a particular question. Oh how he wishes the recording equipment had been switched off during his latest “under the radar” interview.