High-level executive managers and C-Suites within an organisation are usually those with the most power and those responsible for leading their business and motivating their employees. By their very nature, executives and C-suites are likely to be strong and confident communicators with excellent leadership skills. When facing a reputational crisis, that is addressed to them personally, many may feel qualified and agile minded enough to respond to the crisis personally without consulting others, but this is rarely the best course of action. 

Executive all alone
People woprking in an office

An executive will be an expert in their particular field, but that does not necessarily mean they have a full understanding of all the areas of their organisation. To respond to a crisis effectively, executives must take a holistic view. It is vital then, that there is a reputation management plan in place when an exec or C-suite individual faces a crisis. The response must reflect the company vision – not the vision of the individual involved who may well have their own agenda and drivers, despite their commitment to the organisation in which they work.

People woprking in an office

Managing reputational risk 

With the increasing presence of social media, it is now easier than ever for people to aim criticism at an individual within a firm. It is also easy for this to be shared online and for the number of people who see that criticism grow rapidly. It could be a disgruntled customer or member of staff, a competitor or someone who has never had dealings with you but has seen you online and made a judgement, fair or otherwise.

In fact, 87% of executives rate reputation risk as more important than other strategic risks according to Deloitte’s 2014 Global Survey on Reputation Risk. Taking another scenario, if one of your execs has acted in bad faith and caused a crisis, having a credible person respond to that crisis and handle the aftermath it in the correct way, is essential in maintaining credibility. A newspaper, for example, might catch you off guard, asking for a statement when someone has approached them with an accusation about one of your colleagues. How you respond can have far-reaching consequences. 

How to respond to a crisis

How quickly and effectively your organisation responds to a crisis will ultimately impact the long-term future of your organisation and will have a lasting impact on how you are judged personally. How you communicate with your stakeholders at this time must be carefully considered. Execs may be confident in their area of expertise but that does not mean they are experts in handling a crisis, especially as it will not be something they are used to respond regularly. 

Best practice for execs when managing a crisis

There are many steps you can take to prepare for a potential crisis involving an exec or C-Suite individual. and establish best practice. Define the roles and responsibilities of those within the business and establish best practice guidelines for when a crisis of this nature occurs. Who, within the business will play a role in preparing a response? Although a quick response is essential, this should never be at the expense of preparing a thought-through statement that will address the issue raised and resonate with stakeholders. Choosing the wrong words and actions in the immediate aftermath can escalate a crisis. 

How we can help 

We can help you prepare an executive crisis management plan. Crisis management should not begin at the point a crisis occurs; it should be incorporated into the business plan. We can help you implement the right type of crisis management plan for your organisation and prepare potential spokespeople. If you are facing a crisis and haven’t got a plan in place, we can help you manage the crisis, from start to end. Fill in our contact form, or give us a call on 07881 772960.

Your calm and steady approach was everything I needed when my business was being unfairly criticised in the national press. You stopped me from responding in haste, which I realise now, was the worst thing I could have done! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

One of my co-directors was found guilty of drink driving.  I was concerned that if it got out, we’d suffer from negative press and loss of business.  As it happened, there was no backlash but being able to contact you and have some pre-prepared statements and letters ready was reassuring.

My business was facing a torrent of unfair criticism on Facebook.  It stemmed from one negative post by an ex-employee and escalated like wild fire. Your level-headed, practical advice helped get the negative comments removed.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I thought the problem would go away if I ignored it. It didn’t. I was reluctant to use you but can honestly say, your support and advice helped pull me back from the brink. Your patience, clarity of thought and advice were just what I needed to get me through the emotional roller coaster.