EPIC Blog | Reputation Management

Reinforcing Your Reputation

author: Scott Covelli

Written by: Scott Covelli

Public Relations + Content Director


  • Best Practices
  • PR

Why “Crisis Management” is for More than Just Crises

For years at EPIC Creative, we’ve been helping our clients prepare for unforeseen issues that may affect their business and brand. From disgruntled employees to social media gaffes to natural disasters, we’ve developed messaging and armed spokespeople with a guide on what to do and say when something bad happens. But what about when something good happens?

Before we get into that, let’s talk about someone who deserves a little more attention in the public square: Taylor Swift. She is not only a hard-working pop star and brilliant artist, she is the epitome of someone who knows how to manage her reputation. From celebrity break-ups to surprise album releases, everything is calculated to affect how she’s seen by the public. And somehow she makes it all seem effortless. It’s no surprise, then, that she has an album titled “Reputation.”

That’s the name of the game: reputation. We’ve learned from our clients and our experience that it’s not just about managing the bad, it’s about capitalizing on the good. So in honor of Taylor Swift, let’s look into how we’ve expanded our clients’ brand response planning to be about all topics affecting them, not just the bad ones.

“I Did Something Bad”

For years, “crisis management” plans have been too narrowly focused on just that: when we do something bad, how do we fix it? With the rise of outrage culture and the pervasiveness of social media, there are a lot of opportunities to slip up in the public space. It makes sense, then, to have a dedicated plan to address these potential problems.

What we found, though, is that “crisis management” is a misnomer. At its core, crisis management is not only about protecting the brand, it’s also about strengthening your brand overall. It would be like saying, “I want to lift weights and stretch so that I can prevent injury.” Yes, it does prevent injury, but it also makes you stronger!

With that approach, it broadens the scope of what we can accomplish with a response plan. Now, good or bad, you can look at any situation and say “What can we do to use this situation to improve our brand presence, strengthen relationships with our customers, or put ourselves in the best light?” The possibilities are endless.


When an opportunity arises for a brand, it can be a gorgeous moment, but you have to be prepared to act. Sometimes it happens, and sometimes it doesn’t, but as author Brené Brown says, “Whatever you go looking for, you’ll find it.”

For example, for our client Milwaukee Irish Fest, we noticed that President Joe Biden would also be in Milwaukee at the same time as the 2023 festival. Since he’s of Irish descent, and it’s the world’s largest Irish music festival, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for him to stop in for a photo opp and check it out. That would be incredible for the festival, but it would also require some preparation and messaging. We factored that and other positive possibilities into our plan for them as we prepared for the festival.

Years ago, Storm Bowling, a bowling ball manufacturer and client of ours, was presented with the opportunity to be featured in a video from the ultra-popular YouTube channel Dude Perfect. One of the brand’s sponsored bowlers was going to be in a video, and he asked them to participate. In retrospect, they should have jumped at the opportunity to be featured prominently in the video, but they at least sent a bunch of merchandise to the shoot so everyone would be in their branded gear. Now, years later, the video is still getting views, and is up to more than 100 million views. Now that’s a reputation builder.

“Call It What You Want”

The reason we bring all of this up is that we’re shifting some things—not so much in our approach—but in what we call it. We used to call it crisis management, but we’ve officially made the switch to “reputation management.” We’ve always taken into account positive opportunities, but this name change is important because it helps our clients understand the impact of the preparation.

We used to hear things like “That’s not going to happen to us” or “That’s not a crisis”, which are fair pieces of feedback. But the thing about preparing is that it’s not about the situation itself, it’s about your readiness. That’s what true preparedness looks like: not a scripted reaction to a list of outcomes, but a posture of preparedness that’s ready for just about anything, good or bad.

“End Game”

So what does that look like in real life? After we have a brainstorming session with our client to determine the audiences and potential crises and opportunities, we develop a reputation response plan document. It includes a “heat map” of the situation categories and who the point person is for each one. It also includes messaging pillars to help build responses, as well as tips for interacting with the media. Last but not least, there’s a step-by-step workflow of how we use these tools quickly in a response.

When a situation that could affect the brand arises, we convene the response team, go through the steps, and determine if we’re going to respond, how we’ll respond, and to whom the response is directed. We have this process in place for several of our clients, and they’ve used it successfully many times. We also regularly revisit the plans to update them and retrain team members.

“…Ready For It?”

Are you looking for a reputation management response plan for your organization? Do you want to handle every situation as gracefully as Taylor Swift? We can help. Contact us today and we can work with you on this and many other ways to strengthen your brand’s reputation!

Work Hard and Be Nice to People


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