By Ronnie Walsh, Nine Island Communications
Ask any entrepreneur and they will tell you brand reputation is critical. It impacts revenue, referrals, and the ability to hire. If you ask business owners whether they have a specific plan to manage and protect that reputation, the answer is usually no. At least, that’s been my experience. There are many reasons why organizations – big and small – do not have a plan in place. Some say, “it won’t happen to us.” Others feel they can effectively manage situations in the moment. But that isn’t reputation management: that’s crisis management. Reputation management is proactive and, done properly, it can prevent a loss in revenue, for example, or negative reviews from customers. It can also be the tonic for the helplessness you may feel when difficult situations come up.
It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently. - Warren Buffet, American CEO
How does it work?
Reputation management uses tools such as content creation, SEO, social media, public relations, and stakeholder engagement to support positive interactions and content associated with companies. Why all this? Social media, review sites, and search engines heavily influence consumers. They have also compressed the timeframe in which you need to respond. Customers don’t interact with companies the way they used to, so you need a timely, multi-pronged approach to reach and connect with individuals.
What are the keys to reputation management?
In my experience, timeliness is the biggest factor influencing successful reputation management. If you take the time to have a plan in place before something – positive or negative – happens, you’re in a position of strength to protect and manage your reputation.
There are three key elements to effective reputation management.
Monitoring your brand This is important. Monitor your brand across multiple platforms to ensure you are capturing the necessary information to inform your plan. This “listening” means you hear what people are saying about you and will help you respond accordingly.
Developing an action and response plan This is your playbook. It will contain important information such as your goals and objectives; identification of who is responsible for monitoring, responding, creating, and approving content; draft responses to specific scenarios and the tone for those responses; and guidelines on the timeframe in which to respond, how to manage negative situations and leverage positive situations. It may even include guidelines about when to engage your lawyer or stakeholders (investors, government, corporate partners, etc.).
Measuring results This is important because people tend to put plans in place without measuring their impact and effectiveness. You can use various affordable (often free) online tools to measure your plan. Measurement can be as simple as monitoring review scores and website traffic, and analyzing the tone of mentions.
Investing the time and effort to develop a reputation management plan demonstrates that you care about your brand and the future success of your organization. If you’d like to learn more about how you can proactively manage your organization’s reputation, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to help you build your playbook.
For more than 20 years, Ronnie Walsh has helped people strategically and creatively tell their stories. She began her career as a journalist, then moved into communications and marketing. Ronnie’s experience allows her to view situations from different perspectives, ask the right questions, and deliver the best results. Ronnie is an accredited, award-winning communications expert known for developing corporate strategies in media relations, strategic communications, employee engagement, and reputation management. She’s also a media relations and performance coach. She shares her insight via her blog, as a professional speaker, and as the host of the business television show Extrapreneurs.