Without a plan, it’s easy for reputation management to get out of hand for a company. Low-level employees can talk with reporters and give the incorrect information which is then blown wildly out of proportion; different executives send different messages, making the company look disorganized and fragmented; or worst, the company doesn’t do anything to communicate with the public at all and has no reputation: all of these things can be dangerous for a company interested in keeping a good image with the public. Reputation management is essential for a company’s long term success, but it takes some planning to do properly. Here are 8 essential steps for reputation management.
1. Identify Potential Pitfalls and Dangers
The first step in managing your reputation should be to identify the potential pitfalls and dangers your company’s reputation could come under. With your marketing team, sit down and make a list of anything that could potentially damage your company’s image. This can be things like incorrect statements to the press, late or lost shipments, stolen customer data or even the personal lives of company officers. The more things you have on this list, the more you’ll be prepared for any eventuality.
2. Develop a Media Team
A good way to start your reputation management is to develop a media team whose job it is to work with the media and act as liaisons between the public and your company. These people will be trained to know how to interact through the different channels of communication in order to send a clear, positive message that will benefit your company. Without a team of trained media professionals, you’ll simply have people who specialize in other areas trying to stumble through the very important media relations efforts for your company.
3. PR Reps Must Be Present (and Other Rules)
A good way to make sure that misinformation doesn’t get out to the public or to prevent someone from leaking information they shouldn’t is to have a public relations professional present any time someone from your company speaks to the media. By having a PR rep around, you’ll be making sure someone who understands the current marketing plan of your company is present to correct mistakes and make sure your company’s image comes across as positive as possible.
4. Identify What You Want to Talk About
A unified company can send a clear message to the public and establish its reputation. Use internal memos and emails to make the company aware of what the current marketing and public relations focus is. Don’t just hope everyone understands the company in the same way. You need to work closely with your PR team and media team to establish what it is your executives, employees and other people associated with your company should be saying during any interaction with the public. This can even apply to your company bloggers and social media experts.
5. Send out Press Releases
Press releases may be part of a traditional PR campaign, but they’re still an effective way to communicate with the public and establish good reputation management practices. Send out press releases to news outlets, both offline and online, to alert the public of new programs, offers, sales and other information that would generate positive buzz. Sure, a lot of your press releases won’t make the cut—most actually don’t, and that’s simply because news outlets receive so many—but you’re still making the effort to convey some sort of company image or reputation.
6. Hire a Professional PR Company
If you’re a small business, this may not be an option, but as soon as you can, hire a PR company to manage the public relations efforts. PR professionals will know what tools to use to connect with your audience, how to perform proper damage control in the case of poor press, what marketing techniques will be effective and more. Hiring reputation management firms means you’ll get the best for your buck when it comes to your reputation management strategies. There’s a lot that goes into properly managing your reputation, and if you’re trying to build a company, you don’t have the time to do it all on your own. Instead, hire someone to manage your reputation for you so you don’t have to divert your time from running your company.
7. Connect with Customers
With the advent of social media sites, companies can connect with their customers as they never have before. Twitter, Facebook and company blogs all create points of dialog between companies and customers. Taking the time to harness and use social media in your reputation management efforts will show the public that you’re not simply a faceless company that doesn’t care about its customers. You actually want to serve the people who patronize your business and genuinely offer them the products or services they need.
8. Control your Traffic
Finally, a great step in online reputation management is to control the traffic that comes to your company website. You can do this by practicing good search engine optimization (SEO) on the pages of your site. SEO basically means you tailor your sites so that they show up high in search results when customers search for certain words on sites like Google and Yahoo. Good SEO takes a lot of time and should be started even before your company’s website goes live, but it’s something that will definitely pay off when you’ve got everything going. Practicing the right SEO techniques will lead customers to your website when they search for information related to your industry. This will let you give them the first impression of your business instead of leaving it up to chance.
Good reputation management is a tricky process, and it’s challenging to make sure a company keeps a good reputation. That’s why there are entire industries dedicated to creating and improving a company’s branding. While it’s best to hire someone to manage your reputation for you, you can still take a few steps to begin the branding process for your company. There are many reputation management services available if you can take the more professional option and hire a reputation management team. Try these 8 reputation management tips today and see how an improved image will increase your company’s revenue and profits. If you are interested in having me help you with ORM then feel free to contact me through the site here.