We are thrilled to have caught up with Clare Wall, Managing Director at Firework PR, a leading public relations company in Cheshire, who discusses the importance of your online brand, brand management and the benefits of investing in your organisations reputation.
Reputation management isn’t anything new. Brands and organisations have worked constantly to present their best side for hundreds of years, especially when disaster strikes. Millions of pounds are spent every year on reputation management, from the Royal household to the FTSE 500. Managing a positive reputation for a brand is serious business. So why is so much invested in an organisation’s reputation?
The rise in reputation management has been fuelled by our ‘always on’ 24/7 news culture and the explosion of technology and social media. Whereas news used to be more regulated, anyone now has the opportunity to be a commentator. With most individuals able to report or comment on a crisis or an incident by filming it from their smart phone, organisations are recognising that controlling their reputation is much more difficult. Brand reputation has consequently become something more fragile, that should be protected at all costs. Combine that with disinformation via the growth of fake news and the effect on reputation management is palpable.
But reputation management isn’t all about crisis management and the issuing of tense statements. It’s far more than that. It’s all about shaping the way your target audiences perceive you. As such, it should form a deeper part of your organisation’s strategic communications campaign. Investing in a corporate reputation management programme helps to build value and meaning in your brand, working to ensure your brand stock becomes and remains high. It also means that in the unfortunate event of a crisis, your brand has something to fall back on.
Brand reputation also has to ebb and flow with the times. For example, the latest preoccupation of corporate reputation is “purpose”. Brands are becoming more conscious of their social responsibility as a company, as an employer and as a part of the community in which they are based. And consumers are expecting more from brands. They want to know they have a conscience and that they are acting on that. According to recent research carried out by Accenture and Marketing Dive, nearly two-thirds (63%) of surveyed global consumers prefer to purchase products and services from companies that stand for a purpose that reflects their own values and beliefs, and will avoid companies that don’t. Also, brands with a high sense of purpose have experienced a brand valuation increase of 175% over the past 12 years compared to the median growth rate of 86%, Kantar Consulting found. But it is vital that this purpose is authentic, not just a tick box activity, because fundamentally it is about credibility. To build strong consumer connections and maintain a competitive edge, brands should embrace causes that make sense for the company, rather than choosing a purpose that is simply trending at the moment.
So, brand reputation has, it seems, taken on a new focus which isn’t looking to cool down any time soon. But it is also subject to greater scrutiny than ever before. If your brand isn’t already investing in a well thought out corporate reputation campaign, perhaps now is the time to do so. Whether it’s starting with ad hoc activity which will incrementally dial up your brand reputation or a more comprehensive, considered corporate campaign, we can help you.
As Benjamin Franklin wisely once said “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”