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It’s not enough to react in the moment when something bad happens.  Companies must prepare ahead of time as well.  When companies start with a firm foundation of trust and credibility with their stakeholders, they are able to come out in a better position and not so battered when bad things happen.


A foundation can be built in many ways.  To start with, the simple things must be done well.  If companies don’t communicate to stakeholders in good times, they shouldn’t expect a good outcome when they communicate with them in bad times.  The company name needs to constantly be in front of people to build good will.  Many companies do this by giving to local schools, attending the local Chamber of Commerce meetings and events or helping local charities.  This helps keep the company name in front of people in a positive light.  The company is seen as a good neighbor and an active member of the community.  Then, when bad things happen, people remember the good, as well.  When a company builds good will in good times, consumers, investors and employees are more likely to trust them when something bad does happen.


An admirable example of how a company built a foundation to create loyal employees and to maintain a positive reputation was when a hurricane wreaked havoc on many Texas communities. The lights were out in many homes in Houston for almost two weeks. The head of the oil and gas lending department at Scotiabank in Houston bought a gym membership in the building for employees to use so that they could shower before work since most had no hot water at home.  The bank also had lunch catered to the employees so that they would have at least one hot meal a day.  Not only did these arrangements make the employees feel valued, but they were better able to take care of customers because their own needs were taken care of.  Never forget that small acts of kindness go a long way in creating loyal employees and customers.


When bad things do happen, people must be treated well.  Companies who have loyal customers and employees treat people with compassion and respect.  They understand their position in the community and how stakeholders can be affected.  For example, an oil company recently had a spill in a beautiful river area where many weddings were planned.  The corporation moved several weddings at great expense.  They realized that weddings are sacred and the most compassionate (and cost-effective) approach was to work with the brides and do whatever was necessary to create a beautiful wedding in a different location.  Even though the company received negative media attention nationally, the local attention was very positive.  It was positive for two reasons – first, they had already invested in the community for years prior to the event and built good will and second, they understood what the critical issues were and worked quickly to fix them.


If companies are sure to keep their stakeholders in mind and remain aware of what is going on when they are going through tough times, they will likely be successful during their time of crisis.  Companies must be perceptive and take action at essential points along the way.


If you would like more insight on how your company can navigate a crisis, reach out to us at or for more tips, view some of our recent articles.  You can also see how we have helped other companies by reviewing our case studies.