By Taralinda Willis
Most businesses invest a lot of time and money in protecting themselves from a variety of risks — whether by creating policies around data security, enforcing the use of personal safety equipment, or providing a top-of-the-line health insurance.
One type of risk that is often overlooked is reputational risk. But the strength of your reputation can open doors and pave roads for your business, and a good reputation can be hard to restore after a breach of trust.
No one knows this better than ERM, a global environmental, health and safety, and sustainability consulting firm with a large North American presence, whose clients include several types of energy companies that operate in hundreds of communities.
Ryan Earp, a senior public affairs consultant for ERM, says the key to proactively managing clients’ reputations throughout their service areas is to develop relationships with the wide variety of stakeholders in each community, including property owners, residents, local government officials, and first responders.
“The political environment is such that being able to build relationships with stakeholders and proactively communicate information is crucial to minimize potential risk or project delays,” Earp says.
Since his team can’t physically show up to every municipal government meeting in every community that ERM’s clients operate in, they rely on minutes and agendas to stay on top of mentions of their clients and to track discussions that can turn into regulations that may impact their ability to do business.
“Being able to monitor minutes and agendas can help us get better insight into what’s happening at the local level,” Earp says. “Sometimes local resolutions are brought forward by outside groups, and being able to identify those early on can help clients engage the local government officials and get them the information they need regarding a resolution.”
Before ERM discovered CurateLOCAL, they were tracking these discussions manually.
“It was a laborious process,” Earp says. “Depending on the scale of the project, It could take a range of 10 to 25 hours a month for one client.”
Earp says his company had to pick and choose which communities to track among the hundreds their clients operated in. Once they started using CurateLOCAL, they were able to expand their coverage area. Almost immediately, they caught a resolution from a special interest energy group in a community they hadn’t previously tracked that would have impacted their client’s operations.
The client was then able to reach out to that special interest group and meet with them to discuss their concerns, Earp says.
“Lobbyists have been doing bill monitoring forever,” Earp says. “This is that same idea, but microtargeting it to have a better understanding of something that’s always changing. It’s useful for any entity to minimize risk or reputational harm.”
CurateLOCAL uses a blend of artificial and human intelligence to help companies like ERM save dozens of hours each month while expanding its capacity to monitor local government discussions.