Did you know that every employee, every vendor, in fact – everyone with whom you have contact – is, potentially:
- A corporate spy
- A disgruntled person wanting to avenge him/herself against you and/or your organization
- A news media “leak” source
- All of the above
That’s always been true, so you don’t have to get too paranoid. Yet. That’s because you haven’t read the rest of this article. But, first, this quiz:
- How many people in your circle of contacts carry the means to electronically record still images, moving images and/or voice recordings?
- What’s the number one source of news leaks?
- How many organizations have clearly spelled out policies related to the use of recording-capable devices, backed up by a training and enforcement program?
- What does a recording-capable device look like?
(Answers: A – most of them; B – disgruntled employees; C – few; D — anything)
Some of the reputation threats in this area that I have personally witnessed include posting of highly confidential client information on a public website; theft of trade secrets; broadcast re-distribution of embarrassing email and voicemail; and widespread reproduction of reputation-trashing pictures and video. While we, wearing our hats as members of the general public, may be gratified that certain types of information does leak, such as information about illegal activities, the fact is that a fair amount of leaked information is highly inaccurate and/or so out of context that its purpose and meaning are easy to misunderstand.
Who, then, should be responsible for protecting your organization from such threats? Ideally, it’s a teamwork effort between whoever is responsible for IT (for technical support), crisis and risk management (to ID the highest risks) and HR (to facilitate creation of and training for relevant policies).
And who’s responsible if there is no such protection? That’s a good question to bring up at your next staff meeting. It could be the face you see every morning in the mirror!
Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international consultancy and author of “Keeping the Wolves at Bay: A Media Training Manual.” Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.