Many of us never have that kind of contact with the media, so we are very vulnerable to a media blitz that puts our company in a bad or unfavorable light. Media can make or break your company’s reputation in a very short time, so you need to have a media plan in place before such an incident hits. That incident can come in many forms such as an explosion or fire causing severe damages, a disgruntled worker causing mayhem on your premises or a faulty product that went undetected and has now has caused secondary damages.  

You must have a plan for both the traditional media and the social networks and blogospheres. The response must be pertinent to the problem – no contrived statements that sound like obfuscation. A poorly thought-out response may smack of a cover-up, and as we have seen in so many cases the cover-up can become worse than the original offense. You may want to consider the purchase of media time to tell your side of the story if that is appropriate. Having your senior leadership out in front of your customers or public will be crucial to salvaging your company’s reputation. The personal integrity of those individuals will also be tested under these conditions. Remember the story from a few weeks ago about Ken Lay of Enron and Joseph Cassano of AIG, who both got out in front of their company's bad news with lies that destroyed both them and their company’s reputations.  

With this last bit of wisdom, I have to announce that this will be my last blog forIndustrial Heating, where I have been sounding off on my ideas of managing in today's world. I want to thank all my readers over these last several years.  

I have been retired now for four years, and I’m not as in touch with the world you are now dealing with as I once was. I thought maybe by now our economy would be out of troubled times, but I’m afraid we are not. In fact, we are likely headed for even deeper trouble in the coming months. I think we will be dealing with a whole new set of perils that none of us has dealt with before. Keep your focus on your people and your customers.  

Thank you for your interest and good luck.