You understand this quite well as individuals — your reputation builds your credibility. Your credibility is the ultimate value of why someone would choose you over someone else for a project. It creates trust. Trust in turn helps you establish mutually beneficial relationships with others to get things done.
These actions, over time, increases your social capital and your conversational index online. You can manage your individual reputation, or that of your business by attending to and communicating a few things. There are things you can do:
- to improve your company reputation online — by sharing what you're doing to bridge gaps in delivering solutions, address community concerns proactively, and earn permission to shift to a positive conversation
- to earn a good reputation — it is the one thing you cannot really buy. One key component is the responsibility to being authentic, honest, and ethical. The foundations are found in how the company lives its vision and leadership
- to add value — reputation has an impact on the perceived value of your brand. Which is why risk management, a discipline of good and proactive practices that help you identify, assess, implement, and measure activities that allow the organization to be strategic about risk is so important. A strong platform of support from the community
To be relevant today requires understanding context, popularity (notice I didn't write influence), and reputation.
Reputation is tightly connected to recommendation. Communicators and public relationships pros — by using this term, I mean professionals who help organizations behave better in public — need to develop new capabilities to address all of them.
Understanding is a product of listening and researching. In order to implement, communicators will need to overcome what scares them the most. And they are the same things that organizations need to address to manage their own reputation:
- the truth — by acknowledging the truth, for example about not having a crisp idea of what your value proposition really is, your organization can see where it needs to do more work. What happens when a nice-sounding and pretty framework yields no practical results for clients who paid a lot for it?
- the unknown — you may not know the value of your reputation until something happens to test it. However, by taking the right actions and doing the right things, you align yourself with the expectations of your customers that you will stick with your values
- the perception — this is even scarier than the truth, because it becomes ingrained in what people think about your organization, how they view your brand(s), and their interactions with you, which impact sales
There is no true preparation for what will happen in real business scenarios. You make your bones on the job, and often the one way to raise to the top in your profession is by sticking your neck out and not being afraid to confront some harsh realities. Yet, you can prepare by designing a process to help you through.
Increasingly, communicators have a greater business role inside and outside organizations. You can help the organization understand the expectations of its external communities, and design the mechanisms and capabilities for the organization to communicate its actions and behaviors back to the community.
It's a strategic role I have filled in the past. Increasing capacity for the organization subject matter experts and spokespeople to be conversant in building their credibility helps add to the business trust capital.
Reputation management drives the value of your brand, as well as your company valuation.