In the age of social media and crowdsourced apps, all it takes to sink a business is one incident. Even the slightest misstep can rapidly snowball out of control thanks to the “viral” spreading of content on multiple social platforms, and before you know it, the ink is wet on a bankruptcy filing.
Your brand reflects your enterprise’s character, core values, and principles. Your company’s reputation, however, is what other people think your company is all about. It is built upon the perceptions of your customers for the quality of service you deliver…or don’t.
Reputation management is known by many names, including “Online Reputation Management” (ORM), “Brand Perception,” and “Rep Management.” Honestly, it doesn’t matter what you call it. The end game in reputation management is always to create a public image of your business, product, or service that resonates with and attracts more clientele.
Corporate reputation management can benefit or destroy companies of all sizes and industries. Despite the best efforts of many corporate entities, their entire reputation can be marred by just one critical Tweet – just ask shoemakers, New Balance. Perhaps no truer words were spoken as those of American businessman Warren Buffett, who once said, “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to destroy it.”
Reputation management is quite a delicate issue. While you want to deliver on your investors’ ROI, it’s ultimately your customers you need to please. Without them, after all, you wouldn’t have a business. The delicate part comes when attempting to align your brand’s values with those of your customers.
Take Nike, for example. The company hedged a colossal bet in running adverts with the controversial former American Football star, Colin Kaepernick. For those who follow the sport, it’s well-known that the 49ers’ star quarterback used the NFL as his platform to raise awareness about racial disparities in the United States. While Nike did experience a massive public backlash and lost many of its longtime customers, they stuck to their internal values and followed their moral compass. In the end, they gained a larger audience of people who appreciated Nike’s public support of Kaepernick and the cause he represented.
Brand loyalty was a popular concept until the internet came along. As e-commerce continues to grow in popularity, thanks in part to the convenience of shopping from one’s home, more consumers are making purchasing decisions based on online reviews posted by other shoppers. These online reviews are often regarded by the public as being more honest than the marketing and advertising production teams’ attempts to highlight only the best aspects of a company’s product or service.
So, now that you have a better idea about what reputation management is, you can probably see that how you manage it can affect your company’s profits, market value, and its ability to attract high-quality clients.
The Keys to Managing a Successful Corporate Reputation
In addition to media relations, PR efforts, and the creation of genuinely useful marketing content, corporate reputation management also includes making brands easy to find. This is achieved through sound search engine optimization (SEO) practices, with the goal being to rank on the first page of results yielded by the most popular search engines (looking at you, Google). It’s important to note, however, good SEO is only beneficial if your company is just starting out or already has a good reputation. Landing on the first page is not something you want if everything posted about your organization is negative.
Listen to Client Reviews
Corporate reputation management requires businesses to hear the voices of those who support their business: consumers, employees, stakeholders, and local communities. Your ability to listen to what your customers are saying is crucial. In fact, consumer-based feedback should be viewed as a potential goldmine, because it is this feedback that provides vital information to understanding and improving the user experience for your customers.
Successful businesses routinely monitor, rely on, and scrutinize social media comments and mentions, online reviews, survey responses, call center notes, customer phone calls, emails, and any other forms of consumer feedback they can get their hands on. But monitoring all of those things isn’t what customers want. They want acknowledgment and action. That means responding to consumer feedback, both positive and negative, and demonstrating to customers that corporations care about more than just their profit margins.
Develop Your Employer Brand
Corporate reputation can enhance or hinder your ability to hire and retain top talents. Wise corporate leaders understand that the benefits of this type of recruitment are vital to brand success and growth. That’s why employer branding has become a primary focus for successful organizations.
Join in On Community Activities and Outreaches
Although it may not be immediately apparent, joining in on disaster response efforts, supporting charities, or environmentally friendly product campaigns can all increase your market value. Because consumer brand perceptions can vastly improve community support, in general, being a good corporate citizen can do amazing things for your company’s reputation.
Corporate Incident Management Services
It’s not something that any business wants to experience, but if your business performance doesn’t meet the expectations of its customers, or if your organization is involved in some type of catastrophic event (remember Exxon Valdez?), you’ll need an effective reputation management response team.
Corporate incident management services are typically provided by businesses specializing in assisting organizations desperate to improve their corporate reputation. By enlisting these specialists to manage the consequences of an incident or adverse “viral” event, your brand stands a better chance of recovering from the fallout.
Looking for more information about Corporate Reputation management services and how they can help protect your organization? Find it here.