What is reputation management? Simply put, it is a strategy used to influence the way stakeholders perceive the brand of a business – corporate, medium-sized, or the parlour by the corner.
The obvious follow-up question here is why is it important for stakeholders to have a good impression of the establishment?
The answer may be self-asserting to many: everyone wants to deal with a business, especially one which supplies goods and services and meets human and psychological needs for comfort and assurance which we can place our trust in. It’s as simple as that.
In a very pointed way, the reputation of the company is reflected in its products and services. So, it is vitally important for a firm to have a track record of solid reliability which is reflected in what it sells and promises to its customers.
Having such an understanding, the leaders of the establishment then have to locate the strategies and apply them to achieve the objective of establishing a quality reputation for the company. They must also be conscious and willing to constantly update and upgrade it.
The method to clinching the reputation of a firm is to manage the message transmitted to the public. Such management strategies must include identifying what is being said about a brand publicly and ensuring that those statements contain positive messages which will resonate with the target audiences for the products and services.
The portrayal of the business must be real. Regardless if it’s a corporate body or Mr Willie’s parlour on the corner, the owner cannot expect products and services to be automatically and magically receive positive reactions if the products and services are not up to standard. That reality cannot be fudged.
Strategies to acquire a quality reputation must have tactical legs. Meaning, they must be substantial, lasting, with constant updating. They can be utilised to take the messages down the road to achieving the ultimate objective: a company known for decades to be one which can be counted upon to sell quality products and services. Important in establishing a noteworthy reputation is messaging that is easily digestible, shareable, and transferable among traditional and digital media spaces.
Depending on what is happening in these spaces, businesses can devise and project regular and planned communications which help to influence stakeholder perceptions and knowledge about the company and what it is selling and sharing with its publics and customers.
In addition, the company’s reputation must cover and include information and messages of being fair to its employees. So too, the company cannot be slow in giving a simple apology to a customer dissatisfied with the service and or product. “We apologise and assure you that we will get it right next time.” It should not be a difficult response coming from the Public Relations arm of a company or when Mr Willie is told about the hole in the bag of sweeties you bought from him.
Of ultimate importance to understand is that the customer’s voice is key to the efforts in successfully managing the reputation of the company. Many times, the company representatives must push pass the negative media utterances and speak directly to the target audiences as those are the ones who come to the rescue.
The summary below is helpful when planning to have a company’s image portrayed and managed:
• A well portrayed and managed reputation of the corporate body can make the difference between the brand’s success and failure; reputation is integral.
• Success not only means getting ahead of the narrative but also being part of the narrative – the start of the company’s reputation arises from within the organization, it cannot be artificially fabricated from the outside.
• Utilising all the mass media platforms available, not a one-time shot, but on multiple occasions and over a long period is critical; sending the messages home continuously is important to make them stick.
• In reiterating the messages, the opportunity must be creatively used to tell the same story many times but in different ways.
• However, using all of these approaches requires that your sales and marketing efforts be speaking from the same script without variation and conflicting stories.
Utilize all of the advocated approaches and you are on the way to cultivating a quality reputation with your publics and customer base.
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