Many companies that exist today were built on their reputation. The bigger firms call it their “brand” and smaller businesses often refer to it as their reputation. But no matter what way you look at it, its there. It is the public, and private, perception of your company. It can sometimes be sublte, laying in the subconscious of people. Maybe it’s the way the receptionist treated them when they first arrived at your office. Or maybe it’s the way the high school girl that rings people up at your local deli always seems irritated. Then there are less subtle things. Things like a consumer who received a dysfunctional product and writes an angry review about your product.
People form opinions of you, good or bad. And these subtle opinions can lead to big swings in a good or bad perception. But wait, its goes even further. There are two worlds in business these days, the off-line and the online, and they are both handled in different ways. People act different online than they do in person. It is now critical to consider reputation management online as well as off-line. Advertising is the same way, it is not typical for a firm to have an advertising agency that handles both their online and off-line advertising. The two disciplines are just so different and are executed in very different ways. It is the same way when it comes to PR and reputation, or branding.
This type of reputation management has more to do with your personality and the way that you interact with people on a daily basis. It also has a lot do with the way you present yourself in your advertising. Because in advertising, it is usually a one-way communication that you make to the masses. When it comes to this, reputation is not usually an issue because you are going to promote a positive perception of yourself. But when it comes to personal interactions, it’s not easy to have total control over the way employees present your company and brand. This is where more firms run into trouble.
It is important to realize that you will never be able to please everyone. But you still need make sure that your staff understands how you want to be perceived and to empower them. When an employee does not have the ability to make something right for a customer on the spot because of procedural issues, then it undermines their ability to provide a positive image.
It can be argued that this is even more important than your off-line reputation because in the online world you have the potential to reach a wider audience and this wider audience is empowered to speak their mind online. Freedom of speech is alive and well online and people are much bolder in making claims, good or bad, about you.
It is very important to start managing your online rep by monitoring it. Google your name or brand and look at what the Google search suggest gives as longtail phrases. Are there any bad ones like “your company scam”? Also note the search results in Google when you type in variations of your brand name, looking out for negative reviews from clients on complaints boards like Yelp or Rip Off Report. And if this is a real problem for you then it is a good idea to look into hiring a specialist in online reputation management.
The bottom line is that with the advent of the Internet there are now two worlds we need to address, the online and the off-line. And these two worlds require different approaches, not just in advertising but also in communications and brand identity.