• juliannixon

Reputation is your most powerful ally

Reputation management involves influencing, controlling and enhancing the visibility and standing of an organisation in a community or market.

It is a core service provided by public relations firms because what people think about a company – from products and services to the way it operates – either opens doors or closes them.

Corporate reputation can be defined as the accumulated opinions, perceptions and attitudes of stakeholders towards a company.

A good reputation is a powerful ally because it helps companies to make the most of opportunities, attract better staff and be perceived as adding more value, which often allows them to charge a premium.

Understand your audience

In developing and implementing a reputation management plan, it is critical to understand what aspects of the business are important to each stakeholder including customers, clients, employees, investors, business partners, media, regulators and communities. For example, investors may be seeking information to help them make informed investment decisions while customers are more likely to evaluate the benefits of buying a company’s products.

With a focus on the needs of different stakeholder groups, messages can be tailored for specific audiences in the language they understand and delivered via the communication channels they use.

Tactics to deliver key messages in a communications programme include engaging with media and financial analysts, creating website content, being proactive on social media, public speaking and sponsoring events.

Good deeds

Unlike a brand or identity, a good reputation cannot be acquired over a short period of time. “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it,” American icon Benjamin Franklin said.

Acquiring a good reputation is a challenge when there is a gap between an organisation’s behaviour and the reputation it is seeking to gain. To close the gap, a company must either improve its ability to meet expectations or reduce expectations by promising less.

The risk of not doing so is reputation damage caused by perceptions that a company is making claims that don’t ring true.

Claims to be the market leader, the best employer or ‘carbon neutral’ have little to no impact without tangible evidence and third-party endorsement to back them up. For example, an assessment of how committed a company is to combatting climate change would be informed by the extent to which carbon emissions are eliminated from business operations. Shakespeare’s phrase “words are but wind” applies to public relations that isn’t supported by action.

Best approach

Threats to a company’s reputation include bad press and negative social media which can take on a life of its own because anybody is free to express an unfiltered opinion online. It is important to respond to negative events in a positive way by establishing the facts and providing clarity about what the company is doing to address the situation.

At the end of the day, the best approach to reputation management is to keep it real. Understand what your company has to offer, focus on the needs of stakeholders, align marketing and PR with stakeholder experiences and manage issues as they arise.

How we can help

Axis PR is a full-service reputation management agency.

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