06 Sep Reputation – Your Most Valuable Business Asset
By Nichole Culverwell ACIPR
Unlike the tangible worth of a business, impalpable assets such as goodwill and brand recognition are hard to quantify. However, in our increasingly transparent world, intangible assets have a greater than ever impact on your business and its bottom line.
The spotlight on a company’s reputation is shining brighter than ever. Establishing, maintaining and possibly defending that reputation in times of crisis falls to the expertise of public relations and goes way beyond simple media relations tactics.
Thought leadership, executive profiling, brand ambassador engagement, corporate social responsibility, issues planning and online word of mouth are all strategies that will help to establish a good reputation. Remember, PR is not spin. To have a good reputation your business must truly ‘walk the walk’.
Corporate social responsibility
Depending on the funds and time available, a corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme could range from creating a large-scale sustainability vision to simply supporting smaller-scale projects. Ideally, social responsibility should be woven into the very thread of a business and, by identifying common interests, a meaningful and authentic relationship can be built.
Thought leadership offers organisations, and their key personnel, the opportunity to position themselves as leaders in their field. Making your perspective and approach known in this way increases the visibility of your organisation and offers your voice as a trusted adviser with a valid opinion on the topics that matter within your field.
Thought leadership includes research and analysis on your industry, such as the Frank Knight Wealth Report; pieces of original research which help to set and shape the news agenda.
Just as valid are opinion pieces, along with carefully considered commentary and analysis about the topics and upcoming trends within your industry.
Brand ambassadors and influencers
Brand ambassadors are people of influence who are prepared to speak positively about or represent your brand or organisation.
Brand ambassadors are external to your organisation and, unlike influencers, are usually paid for their engagement. It’s vital that any brand ambassador is authentic, relevant and influential within your target audience, so research and close working with the individual beforehand is a vital part of the process.
On the other hand, influencers are usually aspirational figures and typically are active online and social media. A significant percentage of consumers are likely to purchase an item based on social media referrals, and the explosion of influencer marketing reflects this trend.
Issues planning and management
Conversely, the potential for negative comment and the lightning speed of social media’s impact during a crisis means that a robust communications strategy must be considered and be ready to protect your brand.
It’s our job as communications specialists to look at the kind of issues that could arise and work very closely with organisations to plan communications which will navigate through issues while maintaining integrity and authenticity.
Depending on the need, issues planning ranges from a simple set of documents to a full-scale escalation plan backed up by a crisis training scenario. For some organisations a simple response Q&A and statements library should suffice; these will address the most likely issues and identify the most relevant spokesperson for each topic.
Business sectors that have more inherent risk require more planning and training, and of course industry-wide issues, such as cyber security risk, cannot be ignored.
For more information about establishing, maintaining and defending your organisation’s reputation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.