Strategic reputation risk and crisis preparedness has never been more essential to protect and preserve corporate value. Today’s accelerating and amplified crises, from more complex operations, faster pace of media and competitive landscapes to higher stakeholder expectations, are spawning disruption, uncertainty and paranoia that are dramatically impacting businesses. Increasingly, organisations are targeted by new and growing strains of strategic risk, including ‘black bag’ campaigns that mortgage corporate trust, destroy value and threaten leadership stability and licence to operate.

Traditionally, black bag campaigns have been political in nature, used by their opponents to publicly take down congressional candidates or high-level government officials. Cases in point: the recent unsuccessful and separate attempts by conspiracy theorists to falsely accuse special prosecutor Robert Mueller and Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg of sexual assault. Similarly, a large oil & gas company launched a major black bag campaign against economist and presidential assistant Peter Navarro that stemmed from strong differences in policy. The campaign triggered extensive media coverage across multiple media outlets within a single week.

However, this information warfare now includes businesses or governments taking the offensive to disrupt other businesses and their leaders for a variety of competitive and disruptive motives. For example, since 2017, Silk Way West Airlines, an Azerbaijani private carrier of nonlethal cargo, has been the target of Russian and Armenian sources who have disseminated fake news that Silk Way West was ferrying weapons to terrorists, which has hurt its ability to raise capital and renew contracts.

Jul-Sep 2019 Issue