It happens all the time. A good company experiences an incident, or their employees or representatives makes a bad move. Through the power of social media, news of the event spreads across the world in a flash, then lives on the Internet in perpetuity. While it takes mere hours for the damage to be done to reputations and share prices, the negative effects last quite a bit longer. Here are just a few examples:
- After a United Airlines passenger was injured while being dragged off of a plane and their CEO issues an “unpology,” market value of company shares dropped $500M in one hour.
- Chipotle’s E. coli and norovirus outbreaks caused tremendous damage to the brand’s reputation for healthy meals. One year later, shares were trading at an all-time low, down 53%.
- After news of Cambridge Analytica data harvesting broke, Facebook market value dropped $37 billion in less than a day.
- Boeing officials denied safety concerns with the 737 MAX after two crashes and sought to prevent the planes from being grounded. Boeing is taking a $5 billion loss and commercial airline revenues and share prices are down.
- The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico cost British Petroleum $65 billion.
Could something like this happen to your company? Unfortunately, people make mistakes and accidents happen. Imagine an event like this happening to your business. What would happen if an employee were to face an unexpected question or angry confrontation? Would they know how to respond to a stakeholder or customer?
What about online communication? What is your company policy on social media? Do you worry that employees and contractors will get into trouble sharing information about the company online? Maybe you restrict representatives from discussing company matters on social media. Communications professionals, myself included, find that this rarely ensures safety for your online reputation. And an unintended negative effect is that you are missing out on a huge opportunity to grow and nurture organic brand advocacy. Your employees and contractors can and should be your front-line brand ambassadors.
You can’t expect everyone in your organization to know how to respond in high-stakes situations. Each individual who represents your business– employees and contractors alike—must have the tools they need to manage difficult conversations, both in person and online with customers and stakeholders. Communication skills must be taught and practiced in a controlled environment. This is why stakeholder relations training can be invaluable.
Alicomm International offers stakeholder dialogue training to allow organizations to give their people the skills they need to navigate encounters with stakeholders in the field. Our training begins by stressing the importance of developing a connection with your audience. Participants are taught to listen actively, answer with empathy, ask exploratory questions, and build consensus. Alicomm International can provide this essential program for your organization in person, or in any location around the world via licensed video training.
Building brand ambassadors training centers on how each individual can relate to the organization’s core values or themes. When the employee/contractor can incorporate the brand theme into their everyday lives, the message is delivered a uniquely personal way that creates a connection with the listener.
Not every company representative is authorized to deliver every message. Employees are therefore taught how and when to escalate the discussion to the appropriate company representative when appropriate.
Alicomm International offers stakeholder relations and brand advocacy training programs in several training formats to accommodate budgets and organizations of all sizes. Trainings can be customized for industry and company, to suit your needs. For more information, contact Alison Freeman at (972) 217-4642.