People tend to ignore their online reputation, it’s a mistake. We truly live in an age where consumers own brands. People associate their online or company reputation with something else. In actuality, they’re the same. An old maxim in PR is “there is no such thing as bad press”, of course it’s true and to the degree your company shows up in media stories or is talked about online, shows an index of growth. However also true, left defenseless, can create repercussions in the form of lost deals, revenue and relationships––in other words, company reputation fails ultimately cost you your brand credibility.
Why you should care
From managing company reviews on platforms such as Glassdoor, Yelp, Google, etc to harmful news stories, there are many angles you can take in whatever verticals your company operates in. Companies would be amazed at the amount of revenue loss that even one negative review can cost them left unchecked. I recently encountered a potential client who because of one negative review lost a deal worth 1.2 million dollars. The client was about to put the physical contract in the mail and decided to do his “due-diligence” on the company. In other words, he got cold feet. Instead of being reassured why he should follow through with the deal, the first thing he saw was a negative review that encouraged him to just walk away.
Large companies aren’t exempt from this by the way, take a look at company’s like Uber, Zenefits and more. They have tons of cash, but the point is companies could retain more revenue if they focused the necessary commitment of time and money to managing their reputation correctly. While they might not fall victim to an individual review, the principle is the same.
As corny as it sounds, it starts with you
Here’s the thing, your company’s reputation starts with you. Don’t promise things you can’t deliver, reversely if you do promise it, deliver it. Build a system that really delivers great customer service and can resolve issues with unhappy customers. Your image and culture should already be defined if your going to be exposed to press, media or customer reviews.
I know these are all very general concepts, but it’s really something you need to develop and is different for each company. Your company’s culture, its positioning, its customer service and it’s products are the basis of it’s PR and reputation, they make the brand. Most reputation fails unfortunately start with a poorly handled situation in customer service or dishonest dealings. It’s not to say that the company in question is bad, but in that moment it was handled poorly. Some things you can do to strengthen your company’s online reputation are:
- Build an awesome company Facebook page
- Have properly managed Twitter accounts for your execs (especially if they’re public facing)
- Make your company easily contactable and real to your customers
- Hire a PR firm to consult with you on managing your reputation
- Monitor your online search results and don’t wait to address them
It’s never too late to take control of your reputation. But a word to the wise, most people wait until it hits critical mass. Don’t do that.