Manage your environmental crisis before it happens

Posted by on December 30, 2009 at 7:46 pm.

An article on points out the how too often a company fails to prepare for the unknown crisis that could threaten their business continuity and lead to online reputation management problems.  As the article states, “The time to put together a management plan for handling all the negative press you get from an environmental or social crisis is before it happens, not after.”

Two companies that have experienced reputation problems in 2009 are Trader Joe’s and Sigg.  Trader Joe’s was ranked 17th out of 20 grocery store chains and the worst among national chains in sustainable seafood practices because of its lack of publicly available purchasing policies.  Around the same time, Sigg, a water bottle brand popular among environmentally-conscious consumers, revealed that its bottle linings contained bispenol-A, a hormone-disrupting chemical.  Worse, the CEO had to admit publicly that he had known about it long before the public revelation.

These two companies had a slight advantage in managing these crises because of their well-established brands and good environmental track records prior to these incidents.  However, without strong branding, a company faced with environmental issues can be in jeopardy of irreparable damage before the problems are corrected.

Authors Stephen Linaweaver and Brad Bate suggest that there are three steps that any company should take to manage crisis:

  • Know what you know – and what you need to find out. Environmental issues are often complicated and proactive research to determine a corporation’s vulnerability can shorten the time of response in the face of crisis.
  • Acknowledge the event, and put it in context. Responding to an event quickly in a manner that recognizes the big picture rather than focusing too closely on specifics can place the proper emphasis on the issue without dwelling on it.
  • Engage in dialogue. Environmental issues create an opportunity to communicate with the accusing organizations because their acknowledged purpose is to bring about change, not simply attack the “bad guys.”  Developing a positive relationship with activist environmental organizations can open the doors to both sides sharing what they know, believe and want, leading to a positive resolution.

For the full articles, read more…


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