A third have no plans to counter this threat

Aon warned the broadcasting and telecommunications sector to re-assess how subcontractors can impact their reputation and start planning to protect and enhance their future reputation.

Aon's Global Risk Management Survey 2007, revealed that media companies recognise that damage to reputation is their biggest threat.

Over two-thirds of the sector has crisis management plans in place which focus on managing the impact of negative publicity.

Yet recent debate over misleading programme content and problematic phone-in competitions indicates that these plans may need to be more robust. Best practice suggests that plans need to be regularly tested and key media-facing personnel are trained and coached.

Of greater concern, however, is that 30% of media companies have no plans to protect their reputation. As business models shift towards multi-media services, a more proactive risk management role will drive value in the business and ensure that these opportunities are secured to enhance brand and reputation.

Alex Hindson, associate director at Aon Global Risk Consulting, said: "It is often sub-contractors who have created the storm but the programmers who have suffered the reputational damage.

"This raises the key question on whether risk management plans take into account not only the actions of your own organisation but also those of your business partners and suppliers. The media sector must also consider how it selects and manages partners to protect its reputation, as well as drive efficiencies and cost savings."

Aon is urging organisations to focus on creating proactive risk management strategies to protect and enhance brand and corporate reputation. Companies must explore how to harness opportunities and manage threats to an organisation's reputation. It is based on assessing the reaction of key stakeholder groups to a range of unexpected events and using this to drive planning. The process can be extended to consider structured approaches to assess and manage organisation's dependencies on third parties especially outsourced arrangements.

Companies must ask themselves:

·        are the plans simply crisis management and PR plans designed to minimise the impact once the damaging event has occurred?

·        do the plans treat damage to reputation as a risk in its own right or as a consequence of other risks?

·        is there enterprise-wide planning in place for prevention?

In terms of enhancing brand,

·        do organisations understand the threats and opportunities associated with these changes and how they might impact their brand and reputation?

·        are they able to assess and evaluate in a coherent manner the impact of events of their key stakeholders perceptions?

·        do they have proactive strategies in place to manage their reputation and brand through these transformations in their businesses?