4 Tips To Include In A Plan For Reputational Risk


July 14, 2022

Let’s say, for example, that your association supported a position on legislation or policy that best fit your members but was not be the best option for another industry – for this example we’ll use energy conservation. Members and supporters of energy conservation industry are upset about this legislation or policy and immediately link your association to the efforts. Immediately, misinformation is communicated out via multiple channels including social media, blogs, and even face-to-face conversations. This misinformation can only take minutes to be distributed and to put a hinderance on your industry and association. So, what do you do?

Associations and nonprofit leaders need to demonstrate a compelling value proposition for member acquisition and retention, being agile is a must when your industry is being criticized. Responding to any information given by individuals outside your industry may attempt to bridge the gap between how your association perceives itself and how others view it.

Damaging information can spread just as fast as a positive information, so don’t cut any corners. Inf act, research has shown that when individuals have a poor experience or opinion:

  • 36% are willing to write a comment(s) directly to the organization
  • 25% will express their opinion(s) and comment(s) via social media
  • 19% will write an online review explaining their view(s)
  • 9% will contact the media to report it

It will be painful to endure the negative comment(s), but you need to play the long game because the way you respond may ultimately enhance your reputation and increase industry loyalty. To do so, create a risk management plan including a section on response to feedback. When creating that section, consider these 4 tips to help with reputational risk:

  • Become aware: To respond to a comment, you must be aware of it. This means that your team should be watching for and/or be notified when it is posted. Look into your social media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn and know the ins and outs of the site rules so that you can be on top of reviews once published. Remember that if you don’t talk then others will, so as soon as you know about information and can respond, do so. Get quotes from the C-Suite and Board, as the media will be looking to gather as much information as possible and get quotes from your team.
  • Don't pass it off: Avoid saying “no comment,” as every comment, whether positive or negative, needs a response. Always be prepared for a crisis, even if there isn't one. Before your team even look at the comment(s), come up with worst-case scenarios and what plans of action would need to be taken to resolve the issue. Proactive reputation management helps you deal with a crisis before it occurs. These tools can help communicate your stance on the issue, address press concerns and explain next steps.
  • Act on it and don’t be short: Research and address the comments for your response. Take time to write a meaningful message to whomever posted the comment(s). Understand their point of view and let them know you read what they wrote. In every response, introduce yourself, thank them for their information and feedback, and outline your mission, organization’s role within the industry, and what can happen from that point. Avoid discussing how the situation affects you personally and instead explain what your association and your members are doing to assist those who have been damaged by what has occurred. If you're responding publicly, suggest a call or email to further discuss the comment(s) in more depth. Of course, every situation can be handled differently, but planning out situations in a risk-management plan will ultimately help deal with the unknown.
  • Encourage discussion: Don't get discouraged about negative publicity. Make sure it’s known that your association and industry have an open forum for views to be heard. This will show that your association cares about any positive or negative feedback that may come through.

There’s too much at stake for associations to take a passive approach toward reputation management. Associations must establish themselves as trustworthy, legitimate, and worth supporting. One response can sway an opinion, so these 4 tips can help your team plan for the unknown and repair any hinderances to the reputation of your members and your industry served.

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