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Five Elements of Protecting Brand Reputation During Major Events

While broad security efforts for top-tier global events largely fall to the organizer, host country, and governmental organizations, private organizations are not without risk mitigation options when it comes to protecting the brand.

At GSX+ 2020, Edgar Moreno, vice president of global security with NBC Universal, Telemundo Enterprises and Latin America, and Phil Walker, major events program lead for the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) at the U.S. State Department, shared five key ways private sector organizations could improve emergency preparedness and safeguard reputations at large-scale events.

1. Crisis Management. Sponsorship of an athlete, team, product, or event is an investment, says Moreno, and it behooves organizations to make sure that investment pays off—it’s in the organizations’ interest for the event to go off without a hitch. Long-range planning is essential in this regard, and it can be started years ahead of time with input from public and private sector partners at the local, national, and global levels. For example, security practitioners should consider if the organization has agreements in place for medical support should an emergency occur during the event.

2. Risk Assessment. Moreno recommends considering the risks the organization faces in relation to its level of involvement in the event. This can help security professionals develop tripwires and plans for what to do if certain risk signals—such as an escalation in language from a hostile country—are detected.

3. Exercises. “I cannot overstate the fact that you need to exercise your plans,” Moreno adds. “You need to be able to use that risk assessment and test it with the folks that are going to be working on the event.” Organizations can take a variety of approaches here, from conducting tabletop exercises and scenario discussions well before the event to in-person exercises at the event site.

4. Coordination. Sponsorships are often expensive, and they hinge on tying the company’s reputation to the success of the event. In this case, coordinating with external partners—such as the host government—and benchmarking with similar companies can be incredibly valuable for collecting threat intelligence and comparing risk mitigation and executive protection initiatives, Moreno says.

5. Communication. Do you know how you are going to inform stakeholders and the public about any incidents affecting your organization at an event? Factoring quick, effective, and truthful crisis communications into event emergency preparedness planning will bolster trust and hasten response, Moreno adds.