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  • Writer's pictureGEO Strategic Partners

Is your reputation prepared for crisis?

The costs of crisis and implications for strategic communications in crisis recovery are clear

A bad reputation is bad for business. With the advent of the digital age a good reputation can be lost in minutes. GEO Strategic Partners focus is to transform the reputation of its clients so that the sustainability of their business interests are protected by a good strategic communications strategy.

Whether you are a company, CEO, high-net-worth individual or thought leader, your reputation should be a priority and managed accordingly. It is a fact that if you are not actively managing your reputation someone else will take advantage of this or a crisis situation will be made worse because of a lack of strategy and preparedness.

Even though cyber threats closely follows ease of doing business as a top concern of CEO's globally, communication preparedness for cyber attacks is not receiving the attention, or investment, it should. Global companies of good standing have proven to be vulnerable in the face of a cyber attack, even though they are not the target. Maersk's sophisticated systems could not stop the fall out from the NotPetya cyber attack, with Maersk reporting an approximate loss of between US$200 to 300 million. Maersk's approach to communications following the attack has been laudedas a good example of investment in strategic communications so much so that its reputation has recovered, as well as some of the financial loss.

It can be hard to calculate the value of strategic communications management to your business during the good times. The costs of crisis and implications for strategic communications in crisis recovery are clear. The Economist looked at the eight most notable corporate crises since 2010 and found that while the companies had survived, they were, on average, worth 30% less today than they would have been based on a comparison of their peers.

A crisis costs time, reputation and money, even access to capital. In a crisis the one thing you cannot buy is time, you must communicate at the speed of your audience and the metric is Twitter-speed (seconds). A CEO may not care about what people think of him or her but it is vital that the CEO has a plan to reduce the impact that a crisis has on the company and the best insurance is preparedness based on a good strategic communications strategy.

Without a strategic communications strategy, a company cannot act immediately and management cannot demonstrate leadership during a crisis. Once a crisis starts it is critical to control the narrative, but the narrative cannot be controlled if management are still discussing, for the first time, what their strategy should be. The vast majority of crises are identifiable in advance; they can be prepared for and more importantly, preparedness means management can practice responding in real-time and be trained to become a high-functioning team when an actual crisis occurs.

Many companies already have in-house communications teams, however, the value of GEO Strategic Partners is its expertise and commitment to confidentiality. The key to our success is that we operate in the background because it can be more beneficial for positive narratives to come from third parties, including the dismantling of negative narratives. Each company is different, as are the stakeholders and threats, and so each client will have different needs. For this reason GEO Strategic Partners does not provide off-the-shelf services, each client requires a bespoke communications strategy leveraging the diverse skills of our consultants. Our consultants are analytical people who have had many lives, who understand perspectives from various situations and angles, and are not afraid to research and explore before making assumptions. We are a dynamic consultancy that can pivot quickly and integrate skills according to the evolving needs and situations of our clients.

The “reputation insurance” GEO Strategic Partners offers in its suite of strategic communications include:

• Image audit: using our intelligence systems we identify negative actors, their narratives and origin, and identify potential threats and opportunities;

• Communications strategy: following the image audit, solutions are provided based on a 36-month action plan made up of several projects:

◦ Advocacy: highlighting positive news stories, creating dialogue with key influencers and thought leadership, content creation and investment reports through third-party branded financial risk companies.

◦ Leadership: leaders not only blaze trails but contribute to the eco-system of norms and regulations, developing or adopting relevant regulations creates opportunities to highlight ambition at the international level. This means working with our client so that regulatory projects are implemented in a meaningful way.

◦ Mitigation: 24-hour monitoring of negative narratives across multiple languages and promotion of relevant positive narratives or multiplying positive coverage in various mediums to drown out negative campaigns.

• Cyber risk intelligence and assessment, and communications preparedness, composing of a well thought out strategy and response plan on how to manage a crisis in real-time;

• Media training: representatives of the face of the company must be on message, prepared for tricky questions, engaging and authentic.

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently. (Warren Buffet)

It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad to lose it. (Benjamin Franklin)

All you have in business is your reputation – so its very important that you keep your word. (Richard Branson)

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