Reputation Risk Management and the Internet!

Michael D. Moberly   January 2, 2010

The increasingly essential (fiduciary) responsibility for managing a company’s reputation risk should not emulate the conventional Hollywood-style publicist or public relations model.  Company reputation risk management is now about conceptualizing-framing enterprise-wide practices to objectively and proactively address reputational risks that are, in every sense, ‘internet asymetric’!

Respectfully then, any company reputation risk management initiative which integrates that ‘hollywood’ model’ will quickly find itself well behind the curve when it comes to trying to monitor and/or address the realities of the nanosecond, unfiltered, predatorial, and sometimes revengeful and conspiratorial (manufactured) communications that are, unfortunately, increasingly routine in the (global) online social media and networking communities. 

With more frequency, company reputational risks are sparked, initiated by, and/or evolve from social (online) media sources, e.g., blogs, message boards, competing/underming web content, and other social (viral) networking communities that literally transgress, circumvent, and/or bypass traditional forms of communication and information dispersal.  The problem – challenge this poses to company’s is fairly straight forward, that is, adverse social media communications can expose – render organizations vulnerable to ever expanding reputational risks and threats 24/7.

There are three questions relevant to reputation risk management best practices that warrant management team reflection.  One question lies in the warp speed in which unfiltered and sometimes ‘manufactured’ social media – networking community communications can materialize to have their initial (measurable) adverse affect – impact on company. 

A second question lies in identifying appropriate and forward looking best practices to assess the ‘realness’ and duration of such adverse communications.  In other words, how will (not if) such communications impact the company, its customers, its suppliers, and its stakeholders-shareholders?

And, of course, a third question lies in assembling a decision making team with the inclination and capability to objectively, effectively, and consistently identify, monitor, and assess any/all (company) adverse communications.  An important key is that these assessments should not be conceived-framed in conventional risk – threat models.  Rather, the assessments should be executed in contexts of (a.) how such communications can exacerbate additional vulnerabilities (portals) that may/can create cascading affects to the company’s reputation, and (b.) the probability, speed, and potentially global elements that those vulnerabilities may materialize. 

And finally, a fourth question is, are most reputation risks really subject to being controlled in the necessary timely fashion/manner so as to prevent, or, at minimum, mitigate the risks/threats to permit a company to effectively and rapidly (fully) recover (e.g., economically, competitive advantages, sales, etc.,) from the adverse communications?



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