There’s a lot to be learned about how to manage a company’s professional reputation from some of the world’s biggest corporations. By learning how to combat challenges, those that overcome succeed towards the future while those that struggle with PR nightmares see major losses. For businesses of any size, it doesn’t hurt to take a read-through of these reputation management lessons that can make the world of difference in your credibility and competence.
#1 – Be Proactive, not Reactive
Managing a business online means staying ahead of any negative comments that could be affecting your company. Keep ahead on Google reviews, blogs, and review forums (including Facebook). Some of the world’s biggest companies have entire departments tasked with handling negative remarks online. Though you may not need a whole department to keep up, invest in techniques such as setting up a Google Alert, an account at Mention.com, and/or regularly checking review sites online.
#2 – Innovation makes a Company the Authority on a given subject
When you innovate, it puts you at the forefront. For example, Apple has dominated the conversation in several product categories throughout the past two decades because of their long-term commitment and financial investments to innovation. Take a look at your competitors and see where you can improve upon the gaps in their products or services. Browse online reviews for ideas. When you have a key piece of innovation developed and ready to execute, promote it.
#3 – Admit Fault and encourage Transparency
When something goes wrong, you need to be able to admit your mistake and make it right. Furthermore, transparency and public disclosure are key to gaining trust and building credibility – whether you’re in the face of a PR challenge or not. By trying to bury a mistake or failing to address it, as a company, you let anger fester among consumers and potentially alienate the marketplace from your business.
#4 – Even if you are local, think of your business as global
With the internet, every business now has a global reach. Though as a small local business, you don’t need to target an international audience per se, if you are able to accept and process international orders from outside your local region, this is a good practice to maintain. Make products and/or services accessible worldwide and you may see favorable outcomes when/if you scale.
#5 – Invest in Charity and Community Building
Corporations have been able to change their international reputations as being money-grubbing machines to opportunities to invest in charity, healthy community development, and putting a little more good out into the world. Though you might have not have the same financial resources, getting involved in the local community creates a conversation about your business. Also, there’s always the opportunity to win more business in the process.
#6 – Customer Service always comes first
Every customer that comes into contact with your business should leave happy and feeling as if they were cared for. Any time someone walks away disgruntled, you risk permanently turning away not only them but their family and friends as well. From a corporate or business perspective, picking a fight with a customer is a no-win situation. Naturally conflicts do sometimes come up through. When they do, what are you expected to do – consider what went wrong with their interaction and even in the event that the fault is not on your business, do everything you can to ensure it does not happen again.
#7 – Create a Feeling of fun around your Business
Your business should not just be about making money, especially from a consumer perspective. Coca-Cola is successful not because they want consumers’ money but because people associate positive feelings to the brand. Do the same with your client base. Lighten the mood, have fun, and humanize the business to make consumers more comfortable and to conjure up positive feelings about interacting with your brand.