When building a company’s reputation there is a process and structure to follow, a solid and tangible set of tools need to be utilised in creating standards and benchmarks which ultimately make it easier to measure and monitor the company’s reputation.
"A good reputation is built on reliability, trust and transparency, delivering what you promise, saying what you mean and doing what is asked of you, it’s good corporate governance,”says Janine Hills , CEO of Vuma Reputation Management.
Managing reputation is dependant on one crucial factor and that is communication. It has to be driven from top down, with commitment at the highest management level. It is essential for any company to understand that the full impact of earning and building reputation is the catalyst for change. The CEO ultimately has the challenge of integrating it into the business model and placing it as an integral focus of the business. The working knowledge and skills then need to be imparted and embraced by middle management, results have to be monitored to provide a reality check and then filter down to all levels of the business with a set of skills appropriate to each level.
If the passion for the company, its services and products are not present internally, there is no hope of translating that message externally, says Hills. No amount of advertising, sales and promotion will buy customer loyalty if your company is not trusted or respected.
The key is to truly understand your target audience and to communicate effectively with them. It may sound like a lesson in classic public relations – but there is a difference, true corporate reputation management is taking a hard edged view of the big picture while segmenting communication down to the finest detail.
Above average media relations are vital and this involves an inherent respect and understanding of the medium, the journalist, the industry and its issues.
I have a simple but strong belief. The most meaningful way to differentiate your company from your competition, the best way to put distance between yourself and the crowd, is to do an outstanding job with information.
"How you gather, manage and use information will determine whether you win or lose.” ~ (Bill Gates, from Business At The Speed Of Thought)
The basic principles of reputation management are:
Preempting a situation
Preplanning for an eventuality
Honest communication at all times
Being solutions driven