No organization is immune from crisis. Crises are a testing time for management and corporate reputations. Timely, judicious decision-making and communications are critical to ensuring employees, customers and external stakeholders retain confidence in an organization and its products or services. North Head provides a suite of services which assist clients with counsel and support to ensure they are adequately prepared, able to respond effectively and weather the crisis towards an optimal outcome, or even enhance their reputations. Lastly we build crisis recovery programs.
From Crisis to Strategic Counsel: Reputation Management for a Multinational Pulp and Paper Company
The close link between natural forest conservation and pulp and paper production has drawn much attention from environmental NGOs on forest utilization. Given that, a number of environmental NGOs launched a series of campaigns against a world leading pulp and paper company, claiming that the company had been felling natural forests and its plantations had reduced the biodiversity of local eco-systems. Far beyond just reputation, NGO’s had targeted large customers of the paper company, so creating a hurdle for future growth. North Head developed a holistic and strategic reputation management strategy, including communications platforms to help the client tackle these major business challenges.
Due to the lack of a crisis management system, insufficient recognition of the impact on reputation, and self-confidence of its cost competitiveness, the company seldom responded to such crises. However, the concerted campaigns of NGOs had not only resulted in reputation damage, but were jeopardizing relationships between the company and its customers, relevant forest bureaus, and other industry stakeholders. The overall impact was putting its growth prospects and business development in China at risk. Hence, it became an imperative for the company to develop a holistic communications strategy from being able to respond effectively to accusations from NGOs, communicate positive messages and stories, while enhancing relationships between the company and its various stakeholders.
These efforts resulted in the company’s establishment of an effective crisis and issue response system, and also enhanced its internal processes and cross-department collaboration. Such crisis and reputation management capabilities were improved dramatically within one to three years. The company also strengthened its relationship with key stakeholders through the effective communications strategy. A key learning point from this is the company quickly learned to turn the crises into opportunities and managed to improve its corporate reputation through positive approaches. It in return served to benefit the company’s business development in China.