Trylon Communications  - September 2003

Now Is Too Late

The recently published book by Gerald Baron, Now Is Too Late (Financial Times/Prentice Hall publisher), discusses the need for alacrity and proactive strategy in today’s world of instant news. Citing examples such as Anderson and Firestone, he discusses the loss of brand equity through lowered public perceptions – and how such loss can be minimized.

As the title implies, simple reaction to media reports is no longer an effective public relations strategy. Crises must be anticipated and prepared for.

The book points out that any company today can be a target. The attack needn’t begin with a competitor or zealous reporter – virtually anyone can post malicious rumors about any company on the Internet. And, without an immediate challenge, those rumors can be taken as gospel.

One idea Baron proposes is the “first strike” concept. If you know that word is about to leak regarding a company event or misfortune, announce it yourself rather than having the media pick it up from others sources. In many cases, setting the record straight from the beginning can keep lots of annoying questions at bay.

Baron also discusses “reputation equity” - the ability to build a reputation that can come in very handy when the heat is on. It is far better to have media representatives in your corner before the battle begins than trying to win them over once the fight is underway.

Baron advocates using e-mail and a Web presence as effective communications solutions in times of trouble. The ability to instantly communicate with both the public and media is no longer a luxury – it’s a necessity.

No business or company is immune from the possibility of a sudden attack on its reputation. Executives who prepare and arm themselves with today’s tools have a greater chance to ward off such threats. Reading this book can be a good start.