Reputation management – where any business (big or small) should start from

Regardless of its size or influence, every business needs to establish and maintain a good reputation for the sake of its customers, employees and future existence. But if global superbrand Facebook struggles to manage it, what hope is there for smaller companies who don’t have millions to spend on corporate communications support and media training? Follow this starter guide to reputation management and a million pound budget won’t be necessary.

  1. Start by considering the issues that your business could face. This won’t just cover big events like machine failure, death or injury, or faulty products. This also means considering little issues like complaints or a tiny delay in the supply of a material. Write them all down.

  2. Open up your internal comms channels and ask your employees for their insight. This is a valuable exercise as the people involved in day-to-day operations will have a different view of things and may identify issues that you hadn’t thought of. The other benefit to involving your employees in such an exercise is that you’ll help them to feel more valued and engaged.

  3. Bring your leadership team together to look at the identified issues and, as a group, ask yourselves how you can address and prioritise them. A small crack in a machine could be simple to repair, but left untouched, it could cost the business thousands of pounds in recalled products. Address what you can. 9 times out of 10, it’s the small issues that catch a business out.

  4. Refine your big list of issues to the three most likely and damaging risks. Hopefully, by carrying out steps 1-3, you’ve made yourself more aware of problem areas and how to fix them quickly but the reality is that 90% of what you’ve identified will never happen.

  5. Devise a plan for each of the three big risks. At this stage, it’s highly recommended to seek help from an external corporate communications advisor as they’ll be able to provide a full picture of the potential reputational impact of each issue. They’ll then advise you on the steps to take before, during and after an incident to minimise reputational damage.

Don’t stick your head in the sand, or conversely, keep yourself up each night worrying about the fate of your business should a problem arise. Take steps to understand your exposure and build a plan to protect yourself and you’ll sleep far better going forward.

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