At a glance, reputation management is something businesses use to better understand “where they stand”. This is an important practice to engage in regularly because in order to achieve business goals as envisioned, organisations absolutely have to understand where they stand in terms of, for example, what their respective stakeholders think about them, which areas they face the most reputational risks and opportunities in, and what the best way is to benchmark against the competition.
Therefore, to put it simply: reputation management is an institutional skill which is used to gauge customer perceptions and transform the acquired data into key actions. Communications leaders in organisations of all scales and across all sectors, leverage the power of reputation intelligence to drive outcomes related to buying, investing, stock price, partnerships, and much more.
This is why smart and forward-thinking companies rely on the technical guidance of a reputation intelligence expert to defend their reputation against all kinds of business threats, particularly those pertaining to negative sentiment, disinformation, slanderous attacks, and even insider threats.
Many leading businesspeople have stated, including Warren Buffet, how it takes a lifetime to build a good reputation, but only a few minutes to ruin it.
A good business reputation can go a very long way in terms of establishing trust, confidence and credibility in a relationship which a business shares with their customers and stakeholders.
Where online reputation management (ORM) focuses on unearthing negative content and either having it removed, replacing it with positive content or significantly tipping the scale towards positive so that it overshadows the negative – reputation intelligence is purely based on taking a strategic approach to not only restoring but also maintaining a brand’s reputation. And, this is based on ‘listening’ carefully to how all stakeholders think and feel about the business. The strategies allow businesses to react with authenticity and come up with a genuine change plan where required.
It can be said that these efforts are fairly the opposite of the somewhat defensive and closed off efforts typically seen in ORM, which is the modern equivalent of ‘burying a negative story’.
So, rather than trying to sweep any negative search results under the carpet, RI takes a pre-emptive approach to divert any damage and/or risk before it even takes shape. Naturally, part of the process involves dealing with any ‘ugly truths’, and taking the time to understand why stakeholders may not feel very positive about the company.
Insider threats, negative sentiment, disinformation and misinformation, etc. can all severely impact your brand’s positive image – something you’ve likely taken years to foster in the hearts and minds of your audience. ‘Threat actors’ are always looking at you as a target to start their smear campaign, either to settle the score or, perhaps, because someone promised them handsome returns to do so.
Even large and well-established enterprises with leading-class online security measures in place and shining reviews all across the web fall victim to domain and application spoofing, for instance. And when it’s all said and done, your customers are not going to care about whose fault it was – all that matters is that you are responsible for mitigating the risk as quickly as possible.
In order to address any potential risks to your reputation, you need a robust reputation intelligence system at your fingertips – something which will help you identify, track and review all kinds of reputational threats to prevent occurrence or recurrence in future, while effectively stopping the spread of negative feelings and sentiments around your business name.
Realistically speaking, in today’s business landscape, anyone can become a target because there’s always money to be made. Without a proper reputation intelligence and management system in place, companies often fall victim to a variety of scenarios which can cripple their brand image almost overnight:
It’s understandable that reputation intelligence may be somewhat complex to understand initially when compared to online reputation management, but it helps organisations forge a very clear path to who they want to be, and have some “tough” conversations on whether they are living up to the desired aspirations in terms of behaviours, performance and communications. The end result is having a solid and authentic reputation which you can proudly display in front of your current and future audience – everyone from your internal staff, stakeholders and investors to customers and future prospects.
Don’t wait for things to go wrong and then try to fix them. Speak to an RI consultant today to better understand stakeholder perceptions around your business and how they may harm you now or in future.