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PressReleasePing - April 07, 2017 -Each year, companies and organisations across Australia outlay thousands of dollars on insurance policies to cover all sorts of possible risks to their bottom line. Yet surprisingly, many still fail to protect their organisations by investing in one of the most important and cost effective insurances available, and one that could save them millions of dollars if a disaster hits. This important piece of insurance? Reputation management protection in the event of a crisis. The 2016 tragic loss of life at Dreamworld and subsequent response to the accident by the board and leadership team of owners, Ardent Leisure, again raised the question of how well prepared Australian businesses are to deal with, and respond to, a potential crisis. For directors and management, the potential impact of a serious accident or incident, act of violence, cyber-attack, public protest, customer dissatisfaction or any other event that can affect trust and revenue, has taken on greater significance due to the immediacy and impact of social media. News of an incident, and possibly video coverage recorded on the mobile phone of a customer or bystander, will be on social media and online news sites before you have a chance to mobilise your crisis communications team (if you have one) and well before police or emergency services arrive. Having prepared numerous crisis communications plans, conducted business and industry specific simulation exercises and most importantly, been actively involved in managing ‘live’ crisis situations as they happen, Mercer PR is often asked three key questions: We already have an incident or crisis management plan. Isn’t this all we need? Many companies and non-profit entities have a plan to deal with an unexpected incident, but a separate (yet complementary) communications plan is required, because poor communication – even if you manage the issue well – is where the damage to your reputation occurs. What is the cost to have a crisis communications plan developed? Not as expensive as you may think. And keep in mind the cost to your business if you don’t have a plan in place and a crisis hits! How much time do we have to prepare to handle media if a crisis happens? Often none. You need to be prepared before an incident happens because when a crisis hits you need a plan and process to be able to manage the dozens of issues that will arise at once. Since the Dreamworld tragedy, media commentary has focussed on what Ardent Leisure did wrong (in the opinion of others) in trying to manage the crisis, and this publicity will add to their recovery time and dramatically impact their revenue. So, if reading this article has made you think about some of the potential risks to your company and its reputation, here’s five keys to successfully managing your reputation in a crisis. Identify the risks to your business and its reputation well before a crisis happens. Prepare a plan to communicate through any crisis including different scenarios. Ensure your staff have specific roles in the event of any likely crisis. When a crisis hits, communicate with all stakeholders with the following in mind: Communicate early, honestly and often. If you delay and don’t fill the media and public’s desire for information, they will be only too happy to speculate, guess and fill in the communication gaps for you and tell everyone on social media. Never be afraid to say sorry or to say you don’t have all the information but will provide further updates.

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