Coloring Nocturnal Lemons

In today’s volatile market the biggest threat that a corporation could face is losing its permanent contracts. The slowing economy is putting extra pressure on the sales departments, seeking millions of ways to uphold a basic financial stability. They have to stretch their creativity and skill sets to maximum degrees in order to keep the corporate liabilities and active workload forces.

Getting a new client is a tough job, especially when the whole market is at a complete standstill. Everyone waits, calculates opportunities and cuts down unnecessary expenses. The only way to survive is through fierce competition. As Doug Leone recently highlighted at the latest CEO’s Sequoia Meeting (via Lance Weatherby blog), companies should take at least one of the following steps:

  • Getting another round if you’re not profitable will be rough.
  • Do everything possible to get to cash flow positive. Now.
  • Nail your Sales and Marketing message.
  • Pound your competitors shortcomings. They’re hurting and they will be quiet. Take the offensive.
  • In a downturn, aggressive PR and Communications strategy is key.

I couldn’t agree more.

Having a good reputation is probably the strongest competitive advantage and as such it is often a target of numerous attacks. It is also closely related to the financial performance of the company and affects its long-term future. Many of the organizations today are unable (or unwilling) to invest in major communication programs and therefore prefer to spare energy on defaming the enemy. It is much more effective and cheaper than paying for special reputation building initiatives. You don’t believe? Just check the number of hits that turn in Google when searching for things such as black pr and smear tactics. The number increase every day and this is one of the proofs of a strong market demand. You can even find PR executives on the black market for 500$ a day, much less than hiring a professional reputation management consultancy. Don’t you think? What is really scary is that the chances to get caught of acting illegally are pretty low and if the job is performed professionally it wouldn’t be even detected at all.

What are the alternatives?

Instead of spending millions on different management strategies , you can bet on reputation security testing. Although it is still not very popular as a discipline, Reputation Security is a good decision when you are trying to check up the effectiveness of your corporate communication. Its sole goal is to provide awareness of pending reputation vulnerabilities and to show how they could be exploited by the black-hats. The scope of the tests is vast, from network/application security assessments to employees dedication or media collaboration during times of a crisis. This is a good opportunity to find out which of the corporate stakeholders are more susceptible of reputation attacks and have bigger leverage over shaping the public opinion.

Remember: Black PR is all about finding the dirty secrets of the target. If you don’t want to find yourself in a position to justify your sins, then try to correct them before they become public awareness. If this is impossible – prepare a plan that you can follow when the crisis occurs.