Reputation is one of the keys to success in a technology-driven economy. As business models and product types converge, it is becoming a challenge for some companies to differentiate themselves sufficiently from their competition. Having a great track record, great accomplishments and the reputation to go with them is one of the ways a truly driven company can outpace their rivals.
One thing those companies must understand, however, is that reputation is earned and must be vigorously defended. The modern economy exists in an environment where it is easy for false and malicious attacks to stick. All entrepreneurs have to be aware and prepared.
Reputation management is a political campaign, first to last. There is no way to avoid this fact, so it is best to learn how to campaign well and campaign often. Putting employees, investors and customers first is the hallmark of a company that is planning to be well prepared when the challenges to their reputation inevitably arise. The emotional bonds between management, employees and stakeholders will naturally organize themselves to defend an organization if it is unfairly attacked.
The fastest way to torch any organization’s reputation is to be slow in responding to legitimate complaints or requests for help. This should be the absolute top priority for management regardless of context or cost. It is absolutely impossible to build or maintain any credibility in the marketplace if you are unresponsive to customers.
Every business owner either knows or should know it is only a matter of time before they are called out. It will either happen in the traditional media or on social media. A large number of agitators may gather and form a miniature movement to boycott, criticize or disrupt important events or initiatives. While it is understandable to be angry or frustrated at this kind of behavior, public relations experts will be quick to point out these challenges are where a company must be patient and stay on message. The alternative could be irreparable damage to both reputation and credibility.
Many successful businesses have launched for the purpose of providing reputation management services to companies and individuals with substantial online presences. This alone should be justification enough for any company to invest heavily in making sure they are ready for what comes next.