Authored by ARAG Marketing Manager Rachael Wornes
Commercial reputations take years to build but can be destroyed in a matter of hours. ARAG’s Crisis Communications cover gives expert PR advice and support to SMEs facing a communications disaster.
Boeing, Fujitsu, Tata Steel, Mirror Group Newspapers, PPE MedPro... The list of companies that started 2024 wading through a PR crisis is as diverse as the causes of their respective dramas. But it’s not just big companies that are vulnerable to a communications crisis.
Among the many lessons to be learned from the Post Office scandal, is that small businesses are just as vulnerable to a PR catastrophe, even when they have done absolutely nothing wrong, and the consequences for smaller companies can be far more serious and much more personal.
Hundreds of sub-postmasters lost their businesses and their livelihoods, and some were sent to prison, because of software glitches. On top of all the other consequences, the reputational damage for the sub-postmasters, their businesses and families was immeasurable and, in many cases, is only just starting to be repaired now that the full picture has been widely publicised.
While the Post Office scandal is an exceptional saga that one must hope is never to be repeated, the fiasco does illustrate how vulnerable small businesses can be to reputational damage.
Negative publicity often emerges out of the blue and, whether justified or not, can cause significant and lasting harm to any business. Data protection, health and safety, financial, regulatory, product or service issues all have the potential to blow-up into local, regional or even national news stories. In an age of ‘fake news’, trial by media, and viral social networks, swift and effective action is essential.
Big businesses often have specialist advice and guidance to help them navigate such stormy media waters, but most SMEs wouldn’t know where to turn.
Good in a crisis
As well as enjoying all the benefit of advice and support for legal and tax issues, ARAG’s commercial policyholders also have access to our Crisis Communication helpline. It offers timely, expert guidance should an insured business find itself in the middle of a media feeding frenzy.
Businesses of all kinds are still facing a wide array of challenges, at the moment. From the impacts of inflation and the cost-of-living crisis to recruitment difficulties and the fight for talent, SME owners have to be multi-skilled.
But managing a PR crisis is a highly specialist job that calls for very specific skills and experience to navigate a situation in which one miss-step could only serve to make the problem worse.
The problem at hand
Negative publicity often comes in the wake of some other event or problem to which business owners should really be dedicating their attention. Having experts to call upon who can take care of the communications, will allow business owners to focus on the primary issue at hand.
If the worst should happen, and a business does find itself at the centre of a media firestorm, ARAG will pay up to £25,000 in professional fees for expert support and advice, to help manage communications effectively through a time of crisis.
This could include preparing a statement for distribution to the media, as well as drafting suitable communications for circulation to staff, suppliers and even customers.
Like most insurance, crisis communication cover helps businesses through the sort of event that they hope they will never encounter. Should the worst happen, though, this is one key additional benefit that they’ll be very grateful to have.
ARAG UK is a specialist legal insurance provider and is part of the internationally recognised ARAG Group which serves 14 countries worldwide.
Providing several emergency assistance insurance products and an innovative range of Before-the-Event and After-the-Event legal insurance products and services, ARAG UK prides itself on its client-focused approach. This has been recognised by the industry following the results of the Insurance 360 Legal Expenses Insurers Study in which ARAG UK was voted 'best legal insurance provider'. youTalk-insurance sharing ARAG UK insurance news.