Information today spreads faster than ever before. Although digitalisation has made brands more accessible to the consumer, it has exposed them to all sorts of factors that can harm and in some cases, completely destroy the brand. Negative reviews online, low quality content and simply not paying attention to what your audience has to say can make or break a brand.
This is where reputation management comes in. In order for a brand to convey a strong message of credibility, they need to invest in a solid reputation management strategy. While it is not necessary for companies to fervently micromanage what the Internet is saying about their services and practices, it is crucial to focus on promoting content that projects a desired image.
Instead of droning on about why reputation management is crucial in PR, let’s take a look at a brand who would appreciate another shot at executing effective reputation management:
Domino’s YouTube nightmare
Two Domino’s employees posted a series of video clips on YouTube of themselves carrying out stomach-turning acts to food that was supposed to be sold to customers. To make matters worse, the videos crossed 1 million views and Domino’s took a whole 48 hours to respond to the incident. The outrage regarding Domino’s poor reaction time was justified and the brand’s image took a massive hit. Domino’s maintained that they did not want to make a statement hastily and draw more attention to the YouTube video fiasco. Although they eventually fired the employees and sanitised the store, it was already a PR disaster.
The biggest take-away from this incident is that brands have less than 24 hours to respond to a crisis.
Also worth noting is the type of response issued by the brand. This can be a game-changer. If a brand responds offensively, their reputation is not the only factor at stake. Case in point is when United Airlines issued a nasty response to recording of a passenger who was forcefully removed from their flight, the brand’s parent company United Continental Holdings lost 1 billion in shares.
So why do PR consultancies need to sit up and pay attention?
Quite simply put, PR firms today don’t operate the way they did 10 years ago.
Given the rate at which digitalisation is disrupting society, it is not rocket science that a brand’s reputation can be destroyed at the click of a button. It could take years for a PR consultancy to recover from poor reputation management, if at all they ever do. According to the Clutch 2018 Online Reputation Management Survey, only 42% of brands monitor their online reputation daily. That means more than 50% of brands are not managing their online reputation successfully, consequently increase the risk of damaging content being published.
PR firms are constantly on the go simply because there is no set time for a crisis to occur. When a brand’s reputation is on the line, the way a PR consultancy responds is a reflection of whether or not they have anticipated the worst-case scenario.
PR professionals need to assess the situation both from a spectator’s perspective as well as from an insider’s perspective. Understanding a blend of these perspectives will help in crafting an appropriate response to the crisis.
The importance of reputation management
A common error that brands make is to ignore a negative review assuming that it won’t gain traction. Unfortunately all it takes sometimes is one negative review to demolish a brands reputation. The fact remains that when it comes to communication, everyone makes mistakes. The first step towards reputation management is acknowledging this fact and taking steps to correct it. A classic example of this is Dell’s impressive use of its blog when their laptops were literally on fire due to errant batteries blowing up. In model reputation management style, Dell did not fabricate excuses, but instead made a solid commitment to rectifying the problem.
By admitting their faults, brands make themselves more human. In a digital age where people have access to any information they need, PR consultancies and brands need to focus on build credible online reputations to help customers connect better with them.
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