Don't Wait For a Crisis to Manage Your Reputation
Jul 23, 2015
Think about the brands you admire.
Those brands worked hard to earn your respect. But as hard as they are to build up, even strong reputations can be torn down in the blink of an eye. That’s why reputation management requires constant vigilance and attention.
For the past couple weeks, we've been spending a lot of our time in Cheyenne, Wyoming, at Cheyenne Frontier Days, an iconic Western brand built over 119 years with an approach we like to call Cowboy PR.
That means it’s founded on trust and authentic communication. The people who run Cheyenne are straight shooters. They believe in getting directly to the heart of the matter and not wasting your time with a lot of bull.
When we began working with Cheyenne Frontier Days, they were in the midst of a crisis. They had allowed their reputation to be damaged by attacks from anti-rodeo groups who were accusing Cheyenne of all sorts of despicable things. Feeling that they did not need to defend themselves against what they considered to be ridiculous claims, they remained silent.
As a result, they allowed someone else to tell their story, and the public was getting a one-sided, lopsided picture. When some sponsors and fans began asking if they could still trust Cheyenne Frontier Days, the organization realized it had a problem.
Crisis communication depends on trust. Stakeholders need to know that you care. If they don’t think they can trust you, or believe you don’t care, you lose credibility and your reputation will suffer.
Pushkin PR helped Cheyenne Frontier Days develop a reputation management strategy focused on telling Cheyenne’s side of the story. We highlighted everything the organization does behind the scenes to care for animals and prevent animal injuries. We talked about Cheyenne’s rich history and deep roots in the community, about its economic impact on Wyoming. We met with editorial boards and reporters, used video storytelling, and implemented a social media campaign. We also developed a crisis communications plan and trained CFD staff and volunteers so they could respond quickly and transparently in the event of a crisis.
Cheyenne Frontier Days is the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration. More than 300,000 attend the event each year in a town with a year-round population of 60,000. Given its size and scope, it is amazing the 2,500 volunteers who run Cheyenne Frontier Days can pull it off so smoothly. With the tools now in place to help them tell their own story, they can use Cowboy PR to build credibility and trust with their incredibly loyal audience.
They understand that reputations require constant attention, and that communicating authentically and transparently is the key to effective crisis communication.
Is your brand struggling with a reputation problem? Are you prepared should a crisis occur? Give us a call to discuss some reputation management and crisis communication strategies.
Jon Pushkin is the president and founder of Pushkin Public Relations, a full service Denver PR firm. He likes dogs, baseball and swing, in that order.