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Reputation Management: The First Line of Defense when Your World Spins out of Control


The 2016 elections are n-e-a-r-l-y over. Let’s all breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Whether your candidate – or candidates – win or lose, we all have one thing in common: This election shook us to the core and made us think about things we typically take for granted, like basic honesty and ethics.

Most of us live in a world guided by values and common sense, and we believe that, if we behave responsibly and consider the implications of our actions, we’ll never have to dig ourselves out of a hole.

But that’s a tougher task when you run a business or manage an organization with many moving parts. Despite your leadership team’s best efforts, a product may fail, an employee’s actions may reflect poorly on the organization or some activity for which you bear no responsibility will be dumped at your door.

Therein lies the importance of reputation management. Your corporate reputation can be damaged in a heartbeat, but being known as a good steward of public trust can get you through a lot of tough times.

That’s why it’s so important to tell your story – and to be strategic about it. This isn’t about setting a quota and turning out news releases. It is about communicating your corporate values, the benefits of your products and services, and the way in which your organization gives back, whether on a local level or to a broader base.

When it comes to reputation management, modesty isn’t a good business practice. A well-orchestrated plan for communicating value is. If your company is doing great things, your customer base should know about it.

At KK BOLD, we’ve seen two very different scenarios that illustrate the importance of reputation management. One involved a local retailer that did all the right things for all the right reasons, but never talked about it publicly. The company trusted that their customer base appreciated them and their good deeds. Then one day an issue bubbled up – and soon blew up.

Unfortunately, the retailer was forced to move into damage control and was left wondering why their customers weren’t speaking up in support of them. In this case, the need for crisis response could have been avoided, or at least minimized, if reputation management had been part of their corporate practice.

The company in the second scenario was pleasantly surprised when something that could have been a blow to their public image turned out to be no big deal. In addition to being good corporate citizens and strategically communicating their value, they had an active social media presence that allowed them to respond to minor concerns in real time.

By doing so, they proved that they listen to their customers. As a result, when the unforeseen event took place, the company’s reputation management strategy allowed them to come out of it unscathed.

What’s the point of this comparison? In simple terms, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. From the PR perspective, it’s proof informed and satisfied customers can be a company’s first line of defense and strongest allies during difficult times. A business that communicates with its public and delivers on its brand promise is positioned for success.

Large or small, private or public, an organization exists because it provides goods and services to a client base that wants what it offers. Groups that understand the importance of communicating this value are building their reputations at the same time they are growing their businesses.

Debra Anderson is the PR Director for KK BOLD and forgot to stop letting out that sigh of collective relief earlier, so she needs to sit down for just a minute.