Research released today restates the danger to corporate reputation of badly handled conflict.
The report was produced by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) on the basis of questionnaires completed by Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) members. It showed that while only 33 per cent of PR experts surveyed could name organisations that manage conflict well, 68 per cent were able to name those that did not.
Top of the list of unprompted names of those who manage conflict well was the Virgin brand (named by over a third) followed by Tesco and London Underground. Seventy organisations were identified as failing to manage conflict effectively. One in five respondents listed at least one of the following organisations as performing poorly: British Airways; Royal Mail; National Health Service; Post Office; McDonalds.
Respondents also said that when it comes to reputation, winning a dispute should not be everything. Only 29 per cent said that winning was important in a conflict, whereas 84 per cent named the impact on sales, 88 per cent the fairness of the outcome and nine out of 10 said that maintaining relationships was most important.
Of the types of disputes PR professionals have to advise on, the most worrying and frequent to them were disputes with customers. Asked to rank which groups are most likely to be concerned about how conflict is handled, the respondents named: employees (71 per cent); senior management (74 per cent); customers (67 per cent); shareholders (82 per cent).
The survey involved 160 respondents made up of top communications advisers, public relations managers and directors.
Graham Massie, Director of CEDR and complier of the research, commented:
"This survey shows that the PR Industry has a unique insight into the field of reputation and what conflict can do to it. One of the respondents to the survey neatly sums up the research findings by saying: 'How an organisation manages conflict can be a building block for reputation development. All too often it isn't - because senior management separate it off from their strategic thinking, thus it becomes a legal issue'."
Colin Farrington, Director General of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, said:
"The findings of this survey reaffirm what public relations professionals have known instinctively for some time, that everything an organisation says and does impacts on its reputation and how it is seen by others. Nowhere is that more evident than at times of conflict when responses to crises and difficulties may have a longer-lasting effect than people expect.
"The role of public relations is to build and manage the long-term relationships on which organisations' reputations depend, which is why it is so vital. It is also why public relations should be placed at the heart of an organisation's business strategy. Conflict can't always be avoided but whether an organisation's reputation stands or falls as a result is probably less to do with the particular situation and more to do with how that organisation manages its business and communications strategy generally."
To view the report visit http://www.cedr.com/gfx/Reputation_Survey.pdf
CEDR (the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution) is the leader in the development of neutral-assisted dispute resolution. It is a non-profit organisation and its mission is to encourage and develop cost effective dispute prevention and dispute resolution in commercial and public sector disputes and in civil litigation. CEDR operates in the UK and internationally and has been instrumental in helping to bring mediation into the heart of business practice and into the judicial system. www.cedr.com
About the CIPR
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations is the professional body for PR practitioners in the UK. With over 9,000 members, involved in all aspects of the public relations industry, it is the largest body of its type in Europe. The CIPR advances the PR industry in the UK by making its members accountable through a code of conduct, developing policies for the PR industry, representing its members, and raising standards through education and training. For further information, visit www.cipr.co.uk
For further information please contact:
CEDR, Andy Rogers on 020 7536 6000 or email email@example.com
CIPR, Nina Croad on 020 7766 3350 or email NinaC@cipr.co.uk
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