Reputation & Crisis Red Flags

May 18, 2008

Reputation & Crisis Red Flags

The Institute for Crisis Management  (ICM) comes out every year with its list of crises. I always find it interesting to see how the year adds up. As our research shows, reputations tumble primarily because of executive and managerial misconduct. In 2007, ICM found that over half (52%) of major crises were caused by management. Employees accounted for 29% of crises in 2007 and outside forces contributed to the remaining 19%. ICM has been monitoring crisis types for many years going back to 1990. This year it found that three crisis types had risen – recalls, workplace violence and class action lawsuits. Undoubtedly, the horrific shootings at Virginia Tech accounted for the peak in workplace violence and the many toy, pet food and other product recalls contributed to the big 44% increase from the year earlier. The most crisis prone industries in 2007 were:
1. Software Makers
2. Pharmaceutical companies
3. Petroleum Reining
4. Natural Gas Companies
5. Security Brokers/Dealers
6. Banking
7. Telecommunications
8. Automotive Manufacturing
9. Airlines
10. Computer Manufacturers

Another fact caught my eye because it is one of the main tenants of my work on reputation protection and recovery. ICM found that over the past 10 years, most crises were caused by smoldering issues vs. sudden events (65% vs. 35%, respectively). I could not agree more. You can always point to a red flag way before a crisis erupts into public view. Then it’s time to hold up the white flag!

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.

  • Jonathan Bernstein
    Posted at 16:59h, 19 May Reply

    I think it’s important to note that this report only tracks what it calls “Business Crises,” which they define as “Any problem or disruption that triggers negative stakeholder reactions that could impact the organizations financial strength and ability to do what it does.”Obviously there are many types of organizations — and crises — not tracked by this study.

    That said, I agree with you completely that detecting the warning signs of crisis, in advance — i.e., fire prevention versus fire-fighting — is the smart way to go. I use a process called a “vulnerability audit” for this purpose.

    Jonathan BernsteinPresidentBernstein Crisis Management, Inc.

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