Managing your company’s reputation is a complex, nuanced undertaking that often requires a team of in-house and third-party communicators, marketers and technology pros.
Strategic communications, crisis preparedness, social media monitoring, stakeholder engagement, brand development — these are just a few of the many areas with which organizations need to be concerned.
While there are countless strands of spaghetti to keep untangled when it comes to reputation management, in honor of Thanksgiving we thought we’d instead talk turkey. Here are three tried-and-true pointers that apply across all areas of integrated marketing and communications:
- Stay true to you: This ancient Greek maxim is just as true today: Know thyself. Who are you, as a company? What do you stand for? What is your brand? What would your company never, ever do, and what would it never fail to do? How do you want to be perceived? How do you want to be remembered? Don’t be afraid to take risks, but always, without fail, follow your own compass.
- Tell the truth: Tempted to fudge facts to a trade reporter? Hoping to tamp down social media criticism by touting a new project that hasn’t landed funding yet? Flummoxed by questions at a community forum? Whatever you do, do not stretch, bend, manipulate or maul the truth. Well-intentioned companies consider this more than you’d think, and it’s never a good idea. You don’t have to invite negative scrutiny (“Hey, you didn’t notice our poor financials yet!”). When it comes to corporate reputation, remember what your Mom told you and tell the truth.
- Have a process and a plan. It’s great to fly by the seat of your pants now and again to let creativity bubble up, but there’s no substitute for good planning and effective processes. Do you have a protocol and a regular cadence for your corporate communications, or do you just release content willy-nilly? Are you ready with a crisis communications strategy and a dedicated crisis team should a data breach, harassment scandal or other incident occur? Is marketing done when you think of it, or is there a dedicated team rolling out initiatives on a regular schedule? We’ve all heard “failure to plan is a plan to fail” too many times, but if the cliché fits, wear it.