Who to Call in A Crisis?

March 21, 2010

Who to Call in A Crisis?

I came across an article on the growing importance of PR in time of crisis. It was in the London Evening Standard. No surprise why I read it. The title was “Who does a CEO call first in crisis? PR Men.” It first caught my eye because it has to do with CEOs and the rising importance of PR counsel. The reason I took a second look was the headline about CEOs calling PR Men. Please! There must be some women to call. It is 2010 after all. Let’s move on.
The author describes how CEOs used to call their financial advisor or legal counsel when crisis first struck. Now they call their PR head. Research that we at Weber Shandwick have done with Spencer Stuart over the past two years among global Fortune 500 corporate communications officers (The Rising CCO) found an increase in the importance of crisis experience on the job. Additionally, more CCOs now report to the CEO (58% last year), reflecting the rising importance of that position.

“PR has certainly moved up the food chain in the last five years,” says UK PRWeek’s Danny Rogers.  “Reputation is your biggest asset in the modern world. Media and public scrutiny of corporations, brands and individuals has increased. Your reputation can be destroyed so quickly now because it is so global.”

PR should have a seat at the table in good times and bad times.  How a company or organization communicates its vision and values matters 24/7 in this transparent and see-thru world. Reputations can be toppled overnight and sometimes due to rumor and innuendo. Companies must be vigilant in monitoring and defending their reputations. PR deserves to be valued finally.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross
lesliegainesross@gmail.com

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.

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