The New Way of Managing Corporate Reputation
With an emerging breed of consumers demanding dialogue from businesses and insisting on greater organizational transparency and accountability, image and reputation management for organizations has become harder than ever. It is like having millions of eyes watching over your business and a thousand mouths asserting involvement in the communication process. The challenge now is how organizations establish and sustain a positive and strong brand and corporate reputation in the Internet Age.
Five Meta-Trends in Managing Reputation Online
John Bell, managing director of 360o Digital Influence of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, talks about five meta-trends that affect how corporations manage reputation in the presence of the social media and brand communities.
1. Hyper transparency
“Having 150 million bloggers means having thousands of potential forensic accountants, social watchdogs and activists watching your company.”
It is high time that businesses not only open their windows and doors but make their walls transparent as well. Consumers are out to hear and see what’s going on with their brands especially now that various social media tools allow them to do so. Organizations must then operate with honesty and clarity. Secretive companies never win. Openness is the new rule of the game.
2. Viral Crises
“Crisis spreads through networks – formal and informal with lightning speed and full motion pictures. When bad things happen, they spread extremely fast, often with the accompaniment of YouTube videos.”
Primed crisis management plan is a must for today’s businesses. Be wary of bad things blogged, twitted, and posted about your company. Crisis spread is multi-directional and 10x faster. Meet and converse with the fire starters in the right platforms. Above all, your company has to respond fast.
3. Demand for Dialogue
“One way messaging is not acceptable to those who crave dialogue. Consumers crave conversation, not messaging, from the brands they love.”
Let humans converse with humans. Consumers don’t need dreary press releases or deceitful ads. They desire and demand dialogue, genuine dialogue at that. Nothing else gains their trust and loyalty than companies that sincerely listen to and talk with them.
4. Louder brand detractors and employees
“Smart, nimble detractors leverage social media everyday. The Social Web has built new brands from the small guy who knows how to leverage blogs, search, Web 2.0 innovations like tagging, social networks and more.”
Organizations need to be good at the same weapon their critics use. Today, it’s the Internet. Know where the brand detractors are and in what ways they talk. Your company would not want to be fighting in the woods when the enemies are out in the plains. Likewise, you would not use spears when they are already using guns.
5. Uncontrollable brand fans
“Brand fans have a louder voice than ever (and you cannot control them). Corporations either embrace them, ignore them or fall into the danger of trying to control them, or worse, shut them down.”
Powerful allies your company would not dare lose are brand fans talking online. Seek ways to reach and engage them. Know and speak their language. Most importantly, converse with them as human and natural as possible.
Rules for Online Reputation Management
Bell’s five meta-trends define the new game of reputation management. It introduces businesses to the emerging game field, players, allies and opponents and game tools establishing and maintaining their corporate and brand reputation. Nevertheless, no matter how much the game, its players, and tools have changed, the fundamentals remain the same. Here are the game rules which I believe rightly apply to corporate reputation management across all media.
1.Know your brand.
2.Share your story.
3.Listen and respond to your enemies.
4.Engage and reinforce your allies.
5.Always adhere to the core of PR: truth.
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