Reputation Management from the inside out

Last week I hosted a workshop on brand and reputation management in Namibia on behalf of ASM Communications, a training and conference company in SA and Africa. A key point I highlighted repeatedly is that brand reputation should be embedded into the business plan and entrenched within every area of the business.

 We know there is a strong correlation between a company’s reputation and consumers’ willingness to recommend it. While businesses need to focus on building those strong bonds with stakeholders, reputation management cannot be a stand-alone effort that is left up to the Public Relations department or agency to drive. Why? Because your reputation is not determined alone by what you say but also what you do. While the PR team can assist with analyzing the risks, develop strategic communications guidelines and implement them creatively – they cannot control what happens operationally within the organization. 

For example: 

•Bad customer service

•Failed or low quality products

•Leadership and management issues

•The workplace environment – staff unhappiness 

•Bad financial governance 

A collective effort

A sound reputation management strategy should be a collective effort at board and management level including PR, Marketing, Finance, HR, Customer Service, Product Development, CSR and Legal. It is a commitment the organization makes to ensure that at every level they are protecting its reputation. Reputational risk should be high on the agenda of the business strategy because the costs and damage associated with a poor reputation are high. 

While I understand the ROI concerns with spending budget on a risk that has not yet happened or can’t be quantified, I believe that every organisation will have some key reputational risks that can be identified with proper analysis. Think of it like “insurance for a rainy day”. If organisations aren’t doing reputational risk analysis then I believe they are putting their own business at risk.  

The Reputation Institute held one of the world’s largest studies of corporate reputation, check out the results from more than 55,000 interviews across 15 markets in Reputation Institute’s 2013 Global RepTrak® 100 which shows that a 5 point improvement in reputation increases consumer recommendation by 7%.

http://www.reputationinstitute.com/thought-leadership/global-reptrak-100 

A good reputation management strategy involves: 

•Identifying your reputational goals: what do you want your desired reputation to be… 

•Examining the current reality: what is your actual reputation in the market 

•Analysing the gaps: identify the areas within the business which need to be tackled from a reputation perspective 

•Developing a tactical plan: how are you going to tackle these issues on a short term and long term basis 

•Monitoring and measuring: how are you going to monitor, measure and report on your efforts to identify your progress, make recommendations and adjust if required