Managing Corporate Reputation In The Digital Age

By Promo Panda Staff

A corporation's reputation is the product that they are selling. Just as marketing is all about building trust, reputation management is all about building trust with consumers.

Unfortunately, once a company gets sued or reprimanded, that trust is jeopardized.

The good news is that many tools can help rebuild trust and improve reputation.

First and foremost, a company should be transparent with all stakeholders, including investors, lenders, government agencies, consumers, and employees. Transparency will reassure them that management and leadership are focused on doing the right thing and avoiding lawsuits.

It will also help to build trust with customers. Customers trust companies that are upfront about issues that arise.

The first step in the process is to react to situations that involve potential legal trouble quickly. Most importantly, a company should issue statements regarding the matter publicly.

This will build goodwill in all key constituencies, including customers, employees, suppliers, media, and other stakeholders.

The issues in question should be conveyed directly to consumers to maintain a relationship with them. An important question to ask is, "How could a company prevent this from happening again?"

Answering that question can help to clarify a company's response and improve trust in its brand.

A company can also meet with the relevant government agencies or regulators to discuss their legal concerns. If appropriate, they can outline steps that they are taking to address these concerns.

Another tool in the arsenal of a company is its brand reputation research and planning process. This process should be reviewed at least annually.

It should address the issues that have been highlighted by stakeholders in the past, as well as what has been going well. This process should also identify areas of improvement.

While any reputation manager will tell you that communicating with stakeholders is a key part of the process, the best way to reach stakeholders is to put together a brand-relationship strategy. This strategy should also include key metrics that should be measured at regular intervals.

Online Reputation Management

Online reputation management is changing the way companies approach reputation management and online reputation protection.

Thirteen years ago, companies relied heavily on expensive, established reputation management firms that could produce reports that helped them effectively manage their reputation.

The pace of digital advancements in business, combined with the ease and speed at which people can post information online, has made the world an even more challenging place to manage and manage your reputation.

Large companies have often overlooked the time-consuming nature of doing so. Instead, companies try to find the best ways to manage their reputation on their own or with the help of others.

This has left smaller and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to fend for themselves when it comes to protecting their reputation. These companies must often rely on a combination of their marketing teams and Internet-based reputation management and security solutions to try and protect their reputation online.

Even though SMBs have far fewer resources than their large- and medium-sized counterparts, their own marketing efforts often prevent a negative experience from impacting a company's brand reputation.

The Strategy

Before considering what metrics to measure, it is important to identify the key stakeholders in the business. These are the stakeholders that are actively engaged in a company's dealings.

For a public company, stakeholders could be members of the press, other companies in the same industry, suppliers, customers, products and services, and consumers.

A media company could be media agencies, potential customers, or reporters who may cover a company's products or services.

The key is to create a group of people directly affected by a company's product or service. The bigger the group, the more likely they are to have an opinion

The Role of a Reputation Manager

In cases where a company's brand reputation is being negatively affected by a vendor or a supplier, a reputation manager will step in. They will establish a working relationship with the company in question.

The reputation manager will talk to the key stakeholders in the situation and help establish a solution. A company will receive a commitment from the vendor or supplier to improve areas identified as necessary.

Reputation managers are involved in every issue that affects a company's brand and every large corporate issue involving a supplier.

A key requirement for a reputation manager is to be a board-level expert. Not only must they be comfortable discussing legal issues and resolving problems with government agencies, but they must also be comfortable dealing with the media and social media.

A reputation manager is often called upon by company boards to help develop and implement a reputation management program. For example, a reputation manager will provide insight into how customers perceive a company's products and services, its marketing strategies, its products and services, and its corporate reputation.

The reputation manager can then work with company management and its board of directors to develop and implement a long-term brand reputation strategy.

A reputation manager is typically involved with every public controversy that impacts a company. When negative information is leaked or news breaks about a company or its products and services, a reputation manager's team is usually involved in several initiatives to address the issues.

What Can They Do?

One of the most successful strategies that a reputation manager uses is encouraging a company to be open and direct with the media. By being open and honest, the company does not give the media and other stakeholders a lot of ammunition to use in critical reports and stories.

If the company can respond to a critical article or news story about its product or service with a positive announcement, it greatly improves its public reputation. If a negative story appears, the reputation manager will work with the company to develop a plan to fix the problems.

Reputation managers can also make a real difference when a company engages in an issue that involves a company in the same industry. If a competitor announces a product or service that hurts the product or service that a company offers, the reputation manager will work with the competitor to resolve the issue.

If a competitor challenges the marketing tactics that the company employs, the reputation manager will negotiate a resolution.

A reputation manager will help put out every possible fire around a company or its products and services.