"Social networks really do leave nowhere to hide for an organisation in crisis, and the speed at which a crisis can escalate is no longer governed by a printing press."

 
 

“It takes years to build a good reputation…”

…and seconds to destroy it.
 
We’ve all heard the saying, and the talk in the PR world this week (as well as much, much further afield) is all about just how badly last week’s RBS Group ‘IT meltdown’ will damage reputations in the long-term.
 
With up to 17 million people potentially affected by the computer failure, stories are emerging from all corners of the country – many online – charting its impact. 
 
From missed payments causing wedding plans to go awry to working days missed and one man’s weekend spell in prison because a bail payment didn’t clear on time, the web is providing a place for people to share their anger and frustration, and the national media is quick to pick up on those stories as they unfold.
 
A ‘textbook’ response from the RBS Group – regular communication offering reassurance and the promise of compensation – will no doubt have helped (and is certainly light years ahead of RIM’s ‘head down, say little’ approach to last year’s Blackberry service crash). Nonetheless, a lot of people believe that the time it is taking to fix the problem will leave scars that will take a long time to heal.
 
At the very least, these crises make the savvy business owner sit up and think.  The reaction from many is “Thank goodness it’s not happening to my business”, when really it should be “Is there anything that could cause that level of disruption to my business, and what can I do to help mitigate it?”
 
Not all crises make national news, but there are still plenty of places people can – and will - go to vent their spleen when they feel they’ve been wronged.  Social networks really do leave nowhere to hide for an organisation in crisis, and the speed at which a crisis can escalate is no longer governed by a printing press.
 
So, when it comes to the old adage, it does take years to build a good reputation, and seconds to destroy it.  And never was that more true than now.  Businesses – take heed.
 
    
 
The Partners Group

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