Your reputation is paramount to your success as a business. Should an incident arise, are you prepared to deal with the situation effectively to limit any further damage?
Do not be pressured into making a statement on the spot or feeling the need to give a detailed response to initial enquiries. First statements to the press are almost always bland for very good reasons. If the incident is serious enough to result in legal proceedings, your initial response may impact upon those.
Ensure that your internal team is organised and on message. Make sure that enquiries are directed to the relevant individuals.
Clamping down on offensive material will limit the risk of it being duplicated.
Consider putting together a draft response or press statement. If the incident attracts wider attention, you will not be given much time to consider your response. This will also be helpful for planning the message that you want to send out. It may have an effect on your wider strategy for handling the incident.
If you are hosting user generated content which is causing offence to a third party, taking prompt action can in some instances avoid liability altogether.
Ensure that your relevant policies and agreements are up to date, for example to reflect use of social media. This would typically include staff employment contracts. Take opportunities to remind employees of the content, to emphasise that they are there and must be taken seriously.
Be aware of any obligation to report incidents (and the timing of such reports) to insurers or, if you are regulated, to your regulator. If you are a charity, this could involve lodging a Serious Incident Report to the Charities Commission.
When liaising with a third party host of online content, speak their language and point out breaches of their own terms. This may particularly have more sway for hosts outside of the UK.
As soon as you become aware of a potential issue, consider seeking specialist legal advice. We have an expert team led by reputation management specialist Ben Holt. We regularly advise clients on commercial and legal strategy, techniques for handling the media, and can assist in removing offensive material from the internet.
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