Increasingly over the past two years I’ve had conversations with companies about their reputations that have begun with how they are managing their online reputation, or asking for assistance with their online reputation. It’s as if online reputation management has become the primary focus of reputation strategy. But while online reputation management is necessary in our business environment today, such programs are not a complete reputation strategy and ultimately will not be what helps your company to win in a “reputation economy.” Thinking that you have reputation handled because you have a good vision for online communication is merely setting yourself up for a life of damage control.
For reputation managers, a role most often taken on by communicators, focusing on online reputation management alone is merely treating a symptom, not the disease. And such a strategy will leave you in a continuous cycle: going from reputation firefighter one day to reputation defender the next–and then repeating the process. We all know that there is little cheerfulness in walking into the office to: “They said what on Twitter?” Great, the day just blew up. And, equally frustrating, you feel like you had just put the last online issue to bed.
There is a global understanding that we are in a reputation economy. Purchases, donations and investment decisions are all being made with companies’ reputations in mind. At the same time, reputations appear to be less in the hands of the company than ever before. However, companies that are proactive can strategically use this environment to their advantage–by delivering on the brand promise, controlling the narrative and creating relationships with all stakeholders.
For a reputation strategy to have an impact, you want to be a reputation guide, which goes far beyond online tactics and monitoring....
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