A company’s public reputation has a direct impact on its bottom line. When the BP oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the company was hit with an unbelievable amount of negative press, resulting in irreparable damage to the BP brand. The company has since made strides to win back public favor, but it still has a long way to go before making it onto any most admired brands lists.
There are several practices that marketing firms and PR agencies can engage in to keep client reputations squeaky clean, and here are some ideas to keep top of mind, whether you work for a technology PR company, a consumer brand, or as Tiger Wood’s publicist.
Get Social With Your Fans (And Even Your Naysayers)
Today, the easiest way to manage a brand’s reputation is monitoring social media, as everyone is engaging and joining the conversation. If, for example, someone has expressed unhappiness with an airline’s baggage claim on Twitter, that airline will be sure to know about it. That can be both a blessing and a curse. If the airline doesn’t deal with the situation correctly, the whole world has a way of finding out – and fast.
Along this same vein, brands should keep a watchful eye on online consumer reviews. Not only is it a good idea to recognize those who review your product or service, it’s also important to remember that happy customers are not typically the ones who take time to write a review. If a customer is unhappy with your brand, you may be able to repair the situation – and the potentially damaged relationship – by reaching out.
It’s important for businesses to engage with their customers in three ways – quickly, politely and proactively. In the example of lost luggage, an airline should consider making a quick apology, politely offering assistance and proactively finding a solution (perhaps even consider offering the customer a free flight). Depending on the response, the customer often follows up on social media, giving the company a chance to shine bright, or dig itself into a deeper hole.
Put Yourself Out There
Spreading company news is a great way to generate a positive opinion of your brand, product or service. Exciting news announcements like venture capital funding, award or customer wins and brand or product improvements are always worth sharing. Whether through a release or a press conference, promoting these types of announcements to your target audience can work to bolster your business’ reputation.
Although our world is constantly connected to the Internet, offline reputation is still important. That’s right people – good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction still counts. Getting yourself and your brand visibility through industry conferences and summits, speaking engagements and networking events can help align a face with your product or service while positioning you as a thought leader in the industry and your company as the go-to source for relevant information.
Reputation management is a tall task for any PR professional. Firms and agencies must not only ensure that each of their clients have a squeaky clean reputation, but that they also uphold that positive position among their fans, customers and clients – both current and potential. Whatever industry you’re in or companies you’re representing, be sure to consider these tips and stay in the public’s good graces.