One of the founding fathers of the United States once said that it takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it. Those are wise words that still stand today. Reputation is a fundamental quality of every organisation – what internal and external stakeholders believe about it, expect from it and say about it to others. A company’s reputation influences purchase decisions for customers, strategic partnerships and even attracting talent. If your aim is to conduct successful business in a market – recruit talent, grow your customer base, expand fundraising, influence policy – you must build your image. In many companies nowadays, reputation is factored into the shareholding value. Combined with increasing demands for good corporate governance and transparency, issues affecting reputation are ever-more important to corporate performance.
A company’s reputation is shaped by both its actions and its positioning among key stakeholders. Doing what you say will gain you trust with your employees, partners and customers. Positioning yourself in the market as a leader, as an employer of choice, a responsible actor in the community or a reliable partner to government authorities is all part of managing your reputation in a way that is beneficial to your business. Reputation management is a strategic function performed by communications experts in conjunction with top executives.
Listening to your audiences is a key part in understanding perceptions and expectations related to your company. What do employees believe about you? What are your customers’ expectations and perceptions? How are your competitors perceived in the market? An extensive perception map for all stakeholders needs to be prepared and updated, in order to bridge the gap (if any) between your reputational targets and stakeholders’ views of your company.
Especially with the speed of the digital world and the possibility of a local crisis becoming global, companies need to be increasingly aware of all external and internal factors that may affect their reputation. Is your company prepared to handle a crisis? Are there procedures in place? Being aware of what news organisations or online influencers are saying about you and your brand, assessing reputational risks in a timely manner, as well as having a plan in place, are essential in maintaining the image a company has built diligently over time.
At Oxygen, we believe that communication is as essential for a company’s long-term success as oxygen is for people. Our communication experts have successfully shaped and managed the reputation of local and international companies and brands from the financial sector, FMCGs, ICT, healthcare, real estate, retail and other industries.
By: Tereza Tranakas, Managing Partner, Oxygen