|The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, faced off at the 2008 Championships, Wimbledon. Venus defeated Serena (7–5, 6–4) giving the tennis star her 5th win at the event.|
|Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, which starred Christian Bale and, posthumously, Heath Ledger, broke Spider-Man 3’s opening weekend record by bringing in a box office total of $158.4 million.|
|Diane Devaney and Devaney & Associates launched the Get the Facts campaign that helped Keswick Multi-Care Center quell a possible community relations crisis.|
Reputation Management: Changing Opinions in Changing Times
Bad publicity. It’s every organization’s worst nightmare. But thanks to the Internet, social media, and the 24/7 news cycle, it’s also an inevitable part of doing business. That’s what Keswick Multi-Care Center discovered when it made plans to build a much-needed continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in an upscale Baltimore neighborhood in 2008.
Though the land was private property, residents believed the new CCRC would mar the landscape and increase local traffic. Opposition became fierce with organized protests, town hall meetings, and “Keswick, NO!” signs on lawns across the community.
Devaney & Associates answered with Keswick: Get the Facts, a grassroots initiative designed to ensure Keswick’s side of the story was consistently and accurately presented.
Through a dedicated website, blog, media relations campaign, and email and direct mail campaigns, we demonstrated the overwhelming need for the CCRC, the project’s economic benefits for the community, and Keswick’s strong history of community care.
“We specialize in reputation management,” says Diane Devaney, president and founder of Devaney & Associates.
“That means equipping our clients with tools and procedures to proactively avoid public relations mishaps, while also being there to help them through negative situations should they arise. When false information about Keswick’s plan started getting published, we were ready to tell the public the real message that Keswick was trying to communicate.”
The campaign was a public relations success. Keswick Multi-Care Center became a prominent fixture in the local media, earning stories that positioned the organization positively and fairly, while generating more than 15 million media impressions.
The effort even got the attention of then-Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, who sent letters to both Keswick and the neighborhood association, requesting that they work together to form a mutually beneficial solution.
“We always tell our clients to understand their community—to be a good neighbor and support the residents and businesses around you,” says Devaney. “Like people, no organization is perfect. When mistakes happen, having a community that will stand by you is critical to avoiding a PR crisis.”
Devaney adds that, with technology, the definition of “community” is quickly changing.
“The invention of social media has been huge for reputation management,” she says. “But it’s a double-edged sword. If you need to get information out now, you can reach people anywhere, instantaneously. The problem is that it is you can’t control what spreads. Even if a story is patently false, it can reach thousands of people in seconds.”
Devaney & Associates has developed many tools to help clients protect their reputations on social media, including our ATM model for handling negative reviews and comments: Acknowledge the commenter, Thank them for bringing the issue to your attention, then Move them off social media to deal with a customer service representative one-on-one.
“There will always be new and unexpected threats to your company’s reputation,” says Devaney. “It’s important to have simple tools, a smart plan, and someone whose job it is to protect your brand—before the storm hits.”
In honor of our 25th anniversary, we are travelling back to an important company milestone each month. Be sure to stay tuned for next month’s look back!