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Brand image changes are happening at a much more rapid rate in the age of social media. Information or opinions can quickly go viral. "Companies must be able to operate much faster than in the past," says Monaghan.
Many have paid a heavy price for underestimating the importance of social media. They're not prepared for an image crisis, and don't have the right team in place to handle unexpected events. "In a crisis situation," says Monaghan, "the weakest members tend to let you down."
He cites the case of British Petroleum chief executive officer Tony Hayward, whose comment that "I'd like my life back" in the wake of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was widely seen as clueless and insensitive. "One stray comment could be doom," Monaghan says.
The first step in handling a crisis is to have prepared for it well in advance. Companies should be aware of potential events that might impact their reputation. "You need to know how to deal with it before it occurs," he says.
Simulations are an essential means of preparing for disaster. Executives should be ready for multiple failures that can occur, in the form of a chain reaction. Monaghan said it's vital to get the story line correct from the start, then make it clear what the company is doing to address the event. Public mistrust in the aftermath, caused by a slow or inadequate reaction, can be more damaging than the actual disaster, he says.
The company should have previously identified the individuals who will serve as spokespersons in the wake of an event. "You need a cast of people taking calls from media," Monaghan says, adding that the team should include experts in social media who can "script the entire discussion in advance."
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Keywords: supply chain, supply chain management, supply chain risk management, business and social media, supply chain planning
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