I hope this is an obvious point — reputation management is just one facet of broader strategic crisis management.
Communications pros play an important part in the broader system, along with those in business continuity planning (BCP, which is a focus on minimizing business disruption), risk management (often a combination of insurance, legal, regulatory and fiduciary risk), and incident/security management (typically a focus on environmental, health, safety and security risks).
Which discipline should supersede and own this process? Well, none.
A company’s senior leadership is ultimately responsible for a crisis – they own the system, whether they like it or not. Sadly, far too many of these leaders adopt crisis management systems that cover only one or some of these disciplines.
Business continuity is just one element of strategic crisis management, and failure to recognise this reality can leave organizations dangerously vulnerable to operational and reputational risk.
Part of the problem is confusion over terms – business continuity planning, crisis management, business recovery, incident management, emergency response, risk management, crisis prevention, crisis preparedness. The list goes on. But the risk to organizations is not just definitional. The real danger is putting a business continuity plan in place and then starting to relax – imagining that the organization is prepared for a crisis.
…crisis management should be recognised as both a tactical and a strategic responsibility which extends far beyond just business continuity and must be fully integrated into the highest ranks of the organization at a strategic level. Without such top executive commitment, organizations will continue to be unprepared, and crises will continue to destroy organizations and reputations.
I think Tony makes a good point and it’s one of the reasons I prefer to qualify my work as “reputation-based crisis management.” Debatable, but it works for me.
Regardless, smart business leaders ensure that all of these disciplines/departments have a complementary approach to managing crises. Failure to do so is like building a house foundation and walls, but neglecting a roof.