By Johnathon Sweet, Reputation Edge.
A reputation is an animal that you create; you never quite have complete control over it, but you can influence its shape and direction.
Most people are full of great stories about businesses with bad reputations, they’ll even launch into tirades about catastrophic environmental damage, human rights violations, financial disasters or even advertising brain farts that humiliate a business. However, at the average barbie, it takes a little longer for people to talk about companies with the best reputations.
This is generally because people are more likely to share negative experiences than they are positive ones, which in turn makes a good reputation even slower and more difficult to build.
So, what does a good reputation look like? A good reputation is built on a strategy that considers the organisation’s entire sphere of influence. Broadly, each organisations sphere of influence is made up of key stakeholder groups (generally these groups are media, government, activists and lobbyist groups, employees, industry associations, affected communities, competitors, suppliers, customers and investors). Organisations with strong reputations understand the material issues of each stakeholder group and have developed strategies to address these issues.
If the business generates interest and builds positive sentiment focusing on the key issues in each stakeholder group it can distinguish itself from competitors, build resilience, encourage loyalty and improve its longevity. Ultimately, focusing on the key issues that are important to stakeholders is what shapes a good reputation.
To understand if an organisation is succeeding and building a strong reputation it’s key to build in a measurement capability or reputational dashboard to measure the value that’s being delivered.
There are plenty of measures that can be used for understanding your reputation, but the key here is really to ensure that all groups are being measured. However, as your reputation is built on the opinion of others, it’s important to be focused on word of mouth, this can be through tracking Net Promoter Score, conducting satisfaction and engagement surveys, though sentiment ratings, tracking reviews or through social media listening tools. This provides a good source of both qualitative and quantitative measures that enable you to understand if you’re influencing the stakeholder group in the right direction.
The truly challenging part about building a successful reputation is that it really isn’t just about one aspect of your organisation or one stakeholder group.
Building a reputation is all about getting the right messages to the right stakeholders, to ensure all the organisational influences are heading in a positive direction.