September 27, 2015

How To: Manage Your Company’s Reputation Online

Corporate reputation management is a vital part of any business plan. As of course, what is the point in putting time and money into building a favorable reputation if you don’t implement the strategies to maintain it?

Devising a proper crisis communications plan is an integral element of corporate reputation management. A crisis communications plan can ensure a company is prepared for any event that may threaten the companies standing within their industry and with the consumer.

However, many companies fail to consider how the internet can affect their company’s reputation – an incredible oversight considering the prominence the web has in the world today.

The internet stands as a very powerful tool for businesses – yet while it can be used to great positive effect, it can also be used to destroy a company’s reputation.

One negative comment from an annoyed customer or client can have a devastating impact if ignored or dealt with incorrectly. Word on the internet spreads fast – one Tweet can become ten, which can quickly become ten thousand. If you don’t get your word in before this happens your reputation could be in tatters.

As part of a corporate reputation management strategy you should name a member of staff whose job it is to regularly check the internet for any negative comments. This can be done manually but is very time-consuming. There is software available that can perform the searches automatically.

What’s equally important however is to ensure your staff members understand how to respond to bad press.

Corporate reputation management does not entail filing a lawsuit for libel or posting positive messages in the hope that the adverse message disappears.

Conversely, the company should take the time to respond to the message. This doesn’t involve accusing the commenter of lying, or trying to place the blame elsewhere (however if the review is a blatant lie, it’s okay to explain the companies side of the story in a professional, caring and apologetic manner).

Instead the company needs to acknowledge a mistake or problem has occurred. They should then apologize for said incident and provide a solution. They should also try to explain how they will prevent the incident from happening in the future.

This is also very important: while maintaining professionalism, don’t be too corporate, formal or robotic. Your response should be caring, personalized and should clearly come from human hands. A standard response to every complaint will do little to help your reputation, and may even harm it further.

Everyone knows that no company is perfect and will make mistakes - it is how the company deals with bad press that will make or break their reputation.

A company which acknowledges their mistakes and demonstrates that they have learned from any criticism received will stand in a much more positive light than a company who simply tries to cover up bad reviews or other commentary.

If you implement a crisis communications plan that considers corporate reputation management you’ll be much more successful than a company who relies on law-suits and cover-ups to protect their precarious reputation.

This article was written by Amy Fowler on behalf of Insignia. Amy is interested in business and reputation management and enjoys writing about related topics.

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