Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Lynette Von Minden

In Part 1, we discussed what reputation management is and why it’s important. Now it’s time to get the wheels in motion. Managing your brand’s reputation may sound intimidating at first. But remember, you don’t have to go it alone – nor should you. Reputation management requires participation and buy-in from your entire organization, as well as an honest assessment of how your stakeholders see you.

Step 1: Create a response management team. In most organizations, one person can’t be solely responsible for reputation management. It takes a team of representatives from various divisions or departments who can offer their own unique perspectives and solutions, from executives to sales to shipping and receiving and everything in between.

Next, devise an internal communications procedure to follow whenever a potential crisis surfaces. Choose appropriate spokespeople that you can call upon to address certain topics as subject matter experts. These individuals should receive media training to help them formulate the best possible responses to interview questions should the media come calling.

Step 2: Assess your current reputation. Before you can manage your reputation, you should honestly evaluate where it stands today. For example, your packaging and your website may say that you feel strongly about protecting the environment – but is that how people really see you? Are you walking the walk or just talking the talk? You should try to live your brand promise every day, both internally and externally. If you don’t, it’s easy for others to attack you based on experiences that didn’t live up to that promise.

Step 3: Take inventory of your “proof points.” Proof points are facts about yourself that you can leverage if someone challenges or threatens your reputation. Then, reexamine those facts. Are there other things you could be doing that would further solidify your brand promise? Write them down and determine how to incorporate them into your daily operations. Remember, this isn’t only about what your customers can see. It’s about the experiences your employees and industry partners have with you as well.

Step 4: Determine where you’re most vulnerable. No organization is perfect. There are many elements that must work together to result in a positive customer experience. And because of that, it’s possible that you have recurring issues with suppliers, distributor partners, manufacturing processes, environmental impact and product quality. While those issues may seem like manageable hiccups today, they may have the potential to turn into much bigger issues tomorrow.

Brainstorm with your response management team about any potential crisis situations that you may not have anticipated. Getting feedback from your internal and external partners is also important. They may simply be waiting for someone to ask them before sharing their opinions.

Take customer input seriously. With customers able to post or tweet about anything they perceive to be a problem with your product or processes, it’s usually easy to find their feedback. To ensure you’re getting a full view of what your customers are saying about you, consider investing in monitoring tools for paid, earned and social media that can alert your response management team to potential issues as quickly as possible. You may even want to implement a special customer survey or even a series of surveys to get an accurate view of current perceptions.

In Part 3 of this Perspectives series, we’ll talk about how to develop a plan that will help you avoid crises by improving your communications, putting policies into place and developing reference materials.