58% of Fortune 500 executives believe reputation management should be a core part of every organisation’s marketing and branding strategy.*
70% of consumers state that they would avoid buying a product if they don’t like the company behind it.*
Reputation is an important intangible asset of any organisation from a small kiosk to a billion-dollar organisation. Reputation is entrusted not just to a CEO but to every stakeholder of the organisation. Most of the CEOs do think that it’s one of the major risk factors to be taken into consideration but, many of them don’t have the reputation risk plan in place.
Public relations is a discipline that looks after reputation. A detailed PR plan and sustained effort is needed, to establish the brand the public wants to see, through media exposure. A PRO should take ownership of the whole crisis and help the company and senior executives and pull them out of the frying pan. The idea here is to identify the crisis, not just by focusing on what and how it has happened, but, what is at stake – reputation, the paramount, the future of the company.
How reputation is affected?
In a world so advanced, with digitalisation and social media being the untamable beasts – a single act of negligence by the company stakeholders can gain huge attention in minutes, causing the impact on large scale and downgrade the reputation. The best example of this is the current situation, where the world is undergoing a crisis – COVID19. Every story is revolving around the Coronavirus, there is panic all around. The public is emotional and putting on company news over the pandemic reeks out of self-centeredness and could negatively affect the branding.
One bad tweet or a Facebook meme shared by a stakeholder can have a huge effect on search engines. Negative stories on social media and reviewing platforms can have a huge impact not just on the company’s reputation but also on Google’s search engine result pages.
Is reputation measurable?
It is an intangible asset just like air. It has value and stakeholders use it to compare to competitors. But, is it measurable?
Well, it is. But there is no exact formula or procedure. Many scholars and practitioners have been working on this, creating models. One of them is “Corporate Reputation Quotient” by Charles Fombrun (from the US) and Cees van Riel (from the Netherlands), which measures six drivers contributing to corporate reputation –emotional appeal, products and services, vision and leadership, workplace environment, financial performance, and social responsibility.
The business-owners measure the effect of reputation crisis. The share price is a crude measure, which affects the company’s market capitalisation. It provides an instant picture of the company’s value amongst the public.
Given the importance of reputation management in this fast pacing interconnected world, a PRO needs to follow three “R” policy – Repair, Rebuild and Recover. It can be done via traditional PR as well as online reputation management (ORM).
The first thought is to focus on how to repair the damage before it develops further into a market rumour. PR manager should ask clients to be transparent and project that transparency through positive stories. Being transparent and being positive to what is kept on the table by the customer or reviewer is risky. But in the long run, it’s a saviour. Once the crisis starts quelling, one should initiate the rebuilding process. The idea here is to build a positive public perception of the business by starting a fresh PR campaign both offline and online. Lastly, help recover the business by ensuring to mitigate the effect of any negative reputation bombs by continuously monitoring, rapid response, strategic SEO, social media listening, etc.
Creating a good reputation takes time and effort. Be transparent; never falsify who you are just so people like you.
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