It’s no secret that all businesses drawn attention. That’s practically the point. Marketing is a billion dollar industry each year, and has absolutely no forecast of slowing down soon. However, with all that attention and complex organization can come the need for self-defense. We can often see firms as the evil conglomerates we might think they are. That might be true in the case of some companies that do everything to avoid paying tax and perhaps stamp on worker’s rights abroad, but for the most part, businesses are well-intentioned as well as wanting to satisfy shareholder equity.
As a small business, it can be quite overwhelming to consider just how many bases you need to cover to keep your business on top of things. Thankfully, this inquiry is profoundly rational, through and through, and so long as you keep patient, sensible, and plan your moves ahead of time, you can navigate the many pitfalls you might have otherwise experienced. Let’s consider what that might look like:
Give Staff Online Guidelines
Of course, you cannot dictate what your employee does outside of work, unless it causes damage to the reputation of your firm, or is quite obviously unacceptable. However, the online world can be a true danger for many businesses hoping to keep their reputation clean. It only takes one of your employees with questionable political beliefs to contribute aggressively to a Twitter thread to gain notoriety. If they have the name of your firm in their bio, or they have tweeted about working for you in the past, you can be sure that their behavior is going to come back to you.
This is why it’s important to give staff online guidelines. Again, dictating what they can and can’t post is not acceptable. But you can tell them conduct that you support and disapprove of. We would also advocate that you ask them to keep their social media channels clean from mentions of your firm. Of course, it’s not uncommon for employees to scout the social media pages of their employees. It might be that you’re friends on Facebook with some in your office. If they write slurs about you because you’ve asked them to do overtime, this very obvious example should be met with disciplinary hearings.
In any case, doing what you can to protect your firm from online unpredictability is essential if you hope to avoid falling into PR issues. And with that said:
Hire Excellent PR
It’s very important to hire excellent PR services, or to hire professionals or train employees to this end. This is because if you find yourself in some kind of controversy, it’s essential to defend your position, apologise without placing your foot further in the mud, or a range of issues that could likely do with extensive help. Many now see generalized company apologies, or sometimes the hastiness in apologising for modern outrage culture to be against the interests of a company.
It can be that businesses with extremely hidden practices (or at least those that avoid being forthright,) can often be seen as being suspicious in some way. Perhaps they are very silent on environmental issues despite being a large paper manufacturer. It can be worthwhile in the modern day to stay transparent about things that can help champion a cause, or show that you care about going through the proper channels. For example, it might be that you wish to show what suppliers you use to craft your product. Let’s say you’re selling a fruit smoothie brand. If you’re not using fairtrade fruit to help create your product, that says something odd about your firm.
Staying transparent regardless of how you operate can also be worthwhile. When you don’t hide processes that are not critical to hide, you can avoid the potential for false reporting or impressions that can often hit any company.
No matter how well behaved or intentioned you are as a firm, sometimes you will need extremely dedicated and professional business lawyers at your side. This might be to help you defend against wrongful dismissal cases that are obviously quite false (scorned ex-employees can bring these up quite regularly,) or simply to help you navigate the acquisition of a firm. We would recommend those who have an experienced track record such as Perkins Asbill. Lawyering up can help you avoid a range of issues that might have otherwise caused you trouble and harm.
Of course, when you get to a certain size, hiring in-house lawyers could be essential for the breadth and depth of legal navigation you might have to do.
Ensure Contracts Are Watertight
Your contracts absolutely need to be watertight, from top to bottom. Again, you can use lawyer services to help you both write and review these, and that’s crucial to do. Otherwise, it could be that your terms of service omits vital information necessary to keeping your brand or products safe. Internal inconsistencies or contradictions within contracts, especially those such as employment contracts, can also lead to issues that you might really rather avoid.
Not only that, but contracts and policies should also be referenced against one another, to ensure not only are documents consistent within themselves, but within the entire guidance and legal framework that your business occupies. Of course, you do not get to dictate all of these terms. You have business ethics, a legal code and a modern universal policy framework to adhere to, so it’s important to ensure your legal obligations as a firm.
Take Care Of Your Workers
The last thing any business needs is an ex-employee talking about how terrible working conditions are. You might not be interested in video games at all, but the industry itself is going through seismic shifts regarding these issues. ‘Crunch’ is a regular and known process that forces employees to work weekends, overtime, and potentially even give up holidays in order to complete products on time. This leads to burnout, the need for extended leaves of stress absence, and worse.
It’s essential to take care of your workers. Not only because issues like this could become a PR nightmare, but much more importantly, because they are people and not resources to be used. The more your company can adopt a workers-first approach, the more you can gain better results, a healthier working culture, and skilled individuals more commonly applying to your open positions.
Keep Safety Above All
It’s one thing to harm a worker through extensive work loads, but it’s another to omit safety. Safety should be the first thing you invest in, and should never feel ‘complete.’ Until you have zero workplace injuries each year, there’s always something to improve. This means investing in safety equipment, maintaining equipment and machinery, vetting the working conditions of companies you are allied with, and ensuring that your products are always up to scratch to avoid harming customers. On top of that, insuring your firm for liabilities insurance, and ensuring staff have good access to healthcare or other benefits can be an extremely important factor in helping them feel comfortable and protected at their job.
There are many efforts that culminate in a business defending itself well. Often, it means an uncompromising approach to acting in a fair and consistent manner, to factor in the human cost of all your operations, and to ensure you are always pushing for better standards.
With this advice, we hope you’re able to achieve all that and more.