There will be unforeseen "bumps in the road" while you are growing as a leader. Although ambitious founders are highly optimistic, it only takes one major piece of bad press or a partnership failure to start negating your reputation.
Over the years, I have experienced two failed partnerships, one of which was public, and one failed investment. I cannot describe how it feels to work so hard to prove yourself as a reputable founder, then one side of a failed deal takes to social media to discredit your accomplishments in a personal attack on your character. Unfortunately, the average optimist is not equipped to handle some of the potential backlash and business losses.
Public opinion can shape the growth of your business. There is an old saying that it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and one minute to lose it. That is why having a communications team in place can be a wise investment as a proactive measure to ensure your business has clarity around your message and intent.
A public relations representative will only bring more awareness to the public about your company. However, a communications team will clarify and convey your message to decision makers, investors, and consumers about your leadership strategy and the future of the company.
Companies such as Starbucks, Uber, and Papa John's have been on damage control for months with restoring consumer and shareholder faith in their brand, thanks in part to powerful communication teams that helped to refocus attention on the benefits of their community efforts.
Here are three factors your in-house communications team must have to be effective and beneficial for your brand.
1. A Media Pro
With any public relations nightmare, the name of the game becomes speed. However, you cannot rush to the media unless you have a clear message for your consumers and shareholders. Your communications team understands the importance of clarifying your position through content creation (press releases, public statements, etc.) and media attention. Do not approach the media unprepared. Your communication team must ensure the delivery of your statement will have a lasting positive effect.
2. A Proven Writer and Storyteller
Customers want to hear your side of the story. Creating a narrative around your values and principles requires someone who can help you write and communicate a clear story. One of the best communication makeover stories is Uber. After facing a series of serious allegations recently and the shakeup in their board of directors, Uber's new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, is the face of new ad campaigns, which present a more human leadership approach of taking accountability for the past and fixing the company's problems moving forward.
3. An Arbitrator
Your communications team should never attempt to destroy anyone else's credibility in an effort to refocus your company's mission. An effective communication strategy is one where you will have a moment to clarify your side of a public dispute or issue, while avoiding the turmoil of creating a negative image about another party or company. There is always a middle ground, and an effective communicator will help you remain neutral in your public response.