According to research conducted by Protiviti and North Carolina State University’s ERM Initiative in a recent report entitled “Executive Perspectives on Top Risks for 2014” (pg. 5), there are eight top strategic risks for 2014:
Strategic Risk Issues:
Rapid speed of disruptive technological innovations within the industry may outpace our organization’s ability to compete and/or manage the risk appropriately unless we make significant changes to our operating model.
Regulatory changes and heightened regulatory scrutiny may affect the manner in which our products or services will be produced or delivered.
Shifts in social, environmental and other customer preferences and expectations will be difficult for us to identify and address on a timely basis.
Ease of new competitors’ entrance into the industry and marketplace will threaten our market share.
An unexpected crisis would likely have a significant impact on our reputation, given our organization’s existing level of preparedness.
Growth through acquisitions, joint ventures and other partnership activities will be difficult to identify and implement.
Organic growth through customer acquisition and/or enhancement presents a significant challenge.
Substitute products and services may arise that affect the viability of our current business model and strategic initiatives.
1. PR builds, improves and manages your online reputation.
The report identifies shifts in social, environmental and other customer preferences and expectations as a top strategic risk. News flash: There has been a huge shift and it impacts you. Your Google Page-1 search results are now the new front door of your business and the first impression you make on your future customers. The way businesses and consumers shop and make buying decisions has completely changed in recent years. Often, your customers are doing preliminary research online before even considering doing business with you. They’re more informed and are looking for the absolute best option. Your company’s negative online reviews and black marks matter now more than ever. Public relations builds brands and reputations. Through news and social media, PR earns great coverage that not only gets posted, but also gets picked up, shared and sometimes goes viral online (there are now even online versions of most print publications). Your website, earned online media coverage (particularly with backlinks), your blog (a must in 2014) and your social media channels all matter. Having well-trained, experienced and highly skilled public relations professionals in your corner helps you in the areas that now matter most: building your online presence and earning you a blemish-free Google Page 1 – and beyond.
2. PR provides fresh, relevant content that ranks highly.
Per the report, boardrooms and C-suites identified rapid speed of disruptive technological innovations as a top strategic risk. Two-word example: Google algorithms. And disruptive, they are. Don’t believe me? Just ask JCPenney, which found itself under fire for “black hat” optimization. Whether it’s Google Dance, Boston, Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird or any other miscellaneous update in between, the same two facts remain: Your company’s SEO/online presence was/is affected; and your content strategy has to change. Link schemes, fake websites, duplicate content, trying to manipulate your way around the system and, well, just plain cheating doesn’t work anymore. What does? Fresh, relevant, high-ranking content that educates and informs. Content is the new reigning king. Yep, instead of pretending to be the best and dominate the space, you now really do have to be the best and earn your way to the top the old-fashioned way: through hard work, pig-headed discipline and determination. You really have to be a top thought-leader and subject matter expert in your industry. But the good news is that there are ways to work smarter, not harder, and this is exactly what hiring the right online-savvy public relations partner does.
3. PR, by default, becomes the ultimate crisis manager and problem solver.
Lastly, and most important, the risk of an unexpected crisis that would have a significant impact on your organization’s reputation is stated as a top strategic risk as perceived by executives in the report. Again: ding, ding, ding! Having an engaged, long-term strategic PR partner that is familiar with your business, inside and out, solves this problem. Because public relations is in the boardroom advising at a high level all of the time, because of its great relationships with media and because it has a deeper understanding of your relationships with your target audiences, stakeholders and the general public, it is best suited to either provide advice and counsel to proactively prevent a crisis before it occurs and/or to quickly react to identify solutions at crucial or decisive points or when unstable conditions pop up. Having a PR partner on call minimizes risks such as damage to your brand or reputation as well as loss of market share, both of which can cause major financial repercussions and/or put you out of business. At its very core and essence, that’s what public relations is: risk management. In 2014, when it comes to making the decision about hiring a PR firm or not, the decision is simple: You can’t afford not to.
For more information on this blog post topic, review the Executive Perspectives on Top Risks for 2014 file, including page 5.
Previously the director of client engagement for Axia Public Relations, Michelle Heatherly’s worked to integrate clients into the firm and to ensure they are personally delighted and their expectations are exceeded. Her personal mission is to live a life that matters and to inspire others to do the same.