Why risk it? How to manage reputational risks like a pro

Analysing reputational risks holds paramount significance in today’s interconnected and fast-paced business landscape
Share this story
By Janni Jarvinen
Crisis Response Manager, Navigate Response

I am sure your company invests time and resources to meticulously understand every aspect of your operations that could go wrong, but does your risk and horizon scanning include assessing reputational threats?

Analysing reputational risks holds paramount significance in today’s interconnected and fast-paced business landscape. A company’s reputation, carefully built over time, serves as a bedrock of trust among customers, investors, employees, and other stakeholders. Any negative impact on said reputation could mean years of work lost, sometimes overnight. As an experience it’s very similar to a stranger accessing your bank account and making you watch whilst your balance is drained, without being able to do a thing about it. Sure, you can call the authorities after, but it won’t guarantee you see a penny of that money ever again.

You wouldn’t want it to happen to your savings, the ones you have fastidiously gathered over time, so why would you take such a risk with your company’s reputation?

By systematically assessing potential risks to your reputation, organisations can proactively identify vulnerabilities, anticipate emerging challenges, and deploy effective mitigation strategies. Strategies that could in a worst-case scenario be the difference between reputational damage and total loss of said asset. Such foresight not only guards against sudden crises but also cultivates a culture of accountability, ethical conduct, and transparency within the organisation. With the power of social media and rapid communication, a single misstep can swiftly cascade into a full-blown reputational crisis. Therefore, embracing the practice of reputational risk analysis bolsters resilience, sustains market credibility, and strengthens an organisation’s foundation for long-term success in an increasingly interconnected and scrutinising world.

The question remains, how do we successfully manage reputational risks?

Well, this demands a multifaceted approach that integrates strategic foresight, effective communication, and proactive measures. Firstly, a thorough analysis of potential vulnerabilities and threats that could compromise the organisation’s image is needed. After all, it’s impossible to manage and prepare for something you aren’t aware of. Get your organisation to conduct a comprehensive assessment of your operations, products, services, stakeholders, and industry. This analysis should include a review of industry trends, stakeholder sentiments, and emerging issues such as upcoming regulatory changes, social and political climate, and new technologies. But it shouldn’t be limited to future shifts, you must also analyse past incidents or crises that have affected you, or other organisations like yours, to learn from the mistakes of others.

Once risks are identified, a well-structured crisis management plan should be in place, outlining specific roles and communication protocols that guide your organisation’s crisis response.

Communication, both internal and external, plays a pivotal role in managing reputational risks and timely, transparent, and consistent messaging can mitigate negative impacts of an event and help restore trust. On the other hand, lack of communication or poor engagement with stakeholders increases speculation and frustration, which can turn even the smallest, most unlikely risk into an issue. Having clearly defined practices in place, prior to a risk materialising, ensures that your organisation can respond promptly and effectively to any negative developments.

The critical thing to understand is that even when you have listed all possible future risks and prepared a crisis response plan, you’re only as good as how relevant your strategies are. It’s not enough to assess risks once, your organisation ought to commit to continuous improvement in order to ensure that the management of reputational risks remains agile and adaptive in the face of evolving challenges.

Continuously monitoring trends, public sentiment, and news outlets for potential issues and utilising media monitoring tools to stay informed about any emerging risks, can be immensely helpful in keeping your strategies up to date. Your organisation should repeat risk assessments periodically to proactively re-evaluate reputational risks and set strategies, so you may adapt to changing circumstances. It’s also important to learn from past incidents and apply those lessons to enhance your reputation management approach.

Remember that reputational risks can be complex and unpredictable, so flexibility and adaptability are key. By proactively reassessing circumstances and implementing a robust plan, you can better protect your organisation’s reputation and mitigate potential damage. But we appreciate taking the first step towards understanding what reputational threats face your organisation can be tedious, complex and time consuming. That is why Navigate Response offers our clients help with this process, no matter how inexperienced or established they are with reputational threats. If your organisation could benefit from some guidance on the topic, let us know.

Sign up for our Newsletter


Please submit this form to receive our email newsletter

Please indicate that you have read and agree to the terms presented in Privacy Statement, Acceptable use policy, Terms of use and Cookie policy