I had the privilege of speaking to representatives of the public sector around governance, good practice and how to manage the media and their reputation.
It is an interesting brief. Much time and resource goes into training for the first two but less for managing the media and an individual’s, or an organisation’s reputation.
Reputation can be viewed as something that will look after itself, yet we just need to look the recent fall out with the Ryanair over flight cancellations to see how damaging a lack of foresight and planning can have on the perceptions of a firm. Protecting your bottom line, means protecting your reputation, and preplanning and preparing how and when to optimise your communication strategies is key.
An organisation can never be in a position to announce good news every day, however it can be in control of all its messaging and that includes investing time – at a senior or Board level – to ensure that everything is communicated well and any bad or negative messages are balanced out.
This approach requires forward thinking and needs to focus on sharing good news first.
Today’s businesses and organisations are required to be open and accessible and that means having a dedicated communications resource who is there to support and advise how the public will perceive an organisation’s policies or decision making.
Having the communication aims and objectives factored in at the very outset of developing policy or new procedures is essential. Whether as a charity, a campaign group or a global business, if you have something to communicate it has to come from the heart of the organisation – it needs to be authentic, aligned to the business as a whole and in full knowledge and awareness of the wider business operation, so that nothing can come back and bite you.
Successful communications and reputation management is also dependent on the relationships you build with your key audiences, including the media, decision makers and other influencers interested in your field of work.
Like any relationship, you only get out of it what you put in, so regular contact with your stakeholders, and particularly the media, helps build up an understanding of any pressures on both sides.
Just as having the ‘measure of the person or organisation’ helps reduce the potential for the media to get swept away by the hype or zeitgeist of the moment.
This can take time, but worth it. And whilst the social media channels are brilliant in many ways to stay in touch, I believe, where possible, there’s no substitute to meeting in person where and when you can.
If you are interested in learning more about managing your reputation and the messages to your key audiences, please get in touch.
Elaine McKean, Managing Director at Indigo was addressing the ‘Delivering Good Governance in Scotland’s Services: Higher standards, effective government and excellence in public bodies’ conference on 21st September 2017.