February 21, 2018

Know Your REAL Reputational Risk (Hint: Food Safety’s Just the Start)

Across every sphere of public life, we’re bombarded by disruption and dysfunction — from security breaches and mechanical failures to people behaving badly. In the minds of food and nutrition professionals, the possibility of a food safety crisis has always been a clear and present danger.

But reputational risk is much broader than food safety — and potentially just as perilous. We can no longer afford to focus on one type of risk to the exclusion of all others.

Know Your Risk

A risk assessment is the best way to identify the most probable threats, as well as those with the greatest potential impact on your organization, product or brand.

There are three main categories of risks, according to Harvard Business Review’s “Managing Risks: A New Framework” — preventable risks, strategic risks and external risks.

  1. Preventable risks are issues for which the organization has zero tolerance and which bring no economic value to the enterprise. These include such things as harassment by an executive or financial fraud by a manager
  2. Strategic risks are planned business decisions, such as company layoffs or high-profile product reformulations.
  3. External risks are completely outside of your control, such as a natural disaster or workplace violence.
    A risk assessment mines internal and external information sources and experts – typically using quantitative and qualitative methods – to determine probabilities and impacts for each scenario within each risk category.

It’s an informed and strategic process that produces an effective and streamlined crisis management plan.

Mapping Out a Plan

A crisis management plan bridges the material world of operational risk and the less-tangible world of reputation. It offers customized, real-world communication strategies and tactics that are ready to deploy when — not if — bad things happen.

How ready are you to protect your organization’s reputation if a hypothetical risk suddenly becomes all too real? Find out quickly by taking our 10-minute Crisis IQ assessment. You’ll receive an immediate score, indicating your readiness to ward off a crisis entirely and to weather a media storm.

No food business is immune from risk. But when bad things happen, strategic and timely communication can restore your reputation – and stakeholder trust. With a crisis plan in place, you’ll rebound more quickly and regain your rightful place in the market with the respect of your allies and customers intact.

Stacey Stevens leads the Issues & Crisis Navigation practice at FoodMinds in Chicago.

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