Let’s face it – we all want to look good in the eyes of others, and more often than not, we tend to have a particular idea of what we ourselves think about other people. This all comes down to reputation. In public relations, the concept of good reputation management is crucial to the image, success, and performance of whoever and whatever you are working with.
Whether it’s for a brand or an individual, the grounds of a successful PR campaign is reputation management. In fact, most good PR people spend the vast majority of their time helping internal or external clients create a positive perception of themselves among key audiences, publics, and stakeholders; all whilst positioning themselves with a unique and specific reputation within the market.
The significant growth of social and digital media has presented both challenges and opportunities for reputation management. Digital content such as customer reviews, blog posts, or social media updates can all help tell a story about professional expertise or insights into a brand’s story. Likewise, the absence of a digital footprint can raise questions about legitimacy, credibility, and professional standing or career achievements. Essentially, it pays to stand out, but only if the attention you are receiving is positive.
The good news is, there are guidelines to reputation management that can be applied to both professional and personal branding. Here’s how any professional can borrow PR expertise to build the kind of reputation they are wanting to convey and uphold to their target audience.
While you can’t manage everything online, there are a lot of things that are under your control, and it’s important to take the steps to utilise the digital platforms that you have available to you by optimising all of the overarching pages that you own. Create personal and business sites that you manage wherever possible, such as social media platforms, websites, and even blogs or any form of digital publication. However, while its good to have your finger in many digital and social media posts, try to focus more on the key social media platforms that directly target your ideal audience, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, which are likely to be the most useful platforms for building your reputation.
Once you have a feel for these platforms, and you are confident that you are spread out along enough of them, it’s important to stay active and maintain a social presence that communicates with your audience. This means being proactive and most of all, engaging. This could be anything from showcasing your brand’s achievements and highlights, to latching on to whatever other brands and people are doing in a similar industry space to remain current and involved. Most of all, when you are building up a presence on social media or any digital platform, consistency is key. In order to build or maintain a good reputation, your key messages need to be clear and dependable, allowing your audience to consume the particular idea of your brand that has been designed and offered to them by you.
The age-old issue of losing your fanbase due to a ‘controversial’ post is something that is still a very real dealbreaker for any brand or person looking to safeguard their positive reputation. From one outdated political view to an overtly ‘dark’ attempt at humour, even just one single post being taken the wrong way by your audience can see your reputation dragged through the dirt and backlisted from the mainstream. In Australia, a recent example of just how bad things can go in a matter of minutes, is when celebrity chef Pete Evans, with the intention of a little poke at dark humour, posted a cartoon that appeared to incorporate a symbol associated with neo-Nazis. After a storm of controversy online, this single post saw Evans dropped by his book publisher Pan Macmillan, as well as a range of huge brands such as Coles, Big W, and Woolworths, all of whom stock his products. So, as it stands, it’s absolutely crucial to ensure that what you are posting will not lead to offend anyone in your audience or conjure up a vexed idea of your own personal opinions. As a business and as a brand, your social media pages are not a place to journal down your own personal standpoint, especially if you think that it may not be well received.
In order for people to take you seriously, you need to have credibility. To shape and fashion up your brand image for the better, and to maintain a good reputation for being one of the best in your field, you need to be a thought leader. By aligning your name and your company to a central idea, mission, or unique aspect of your brand’s identity, you can authentically build your reputation both on and offline. This involves firstly knowing what you’re talking about, and then using this knowledge and your expertise in whatever industry you’re in to create content that will give your audience an insight into what you do and how you are an influential figure in the industry. This could be anything from blogs and articles, to social media posts, authored by you or a brand spokesperson, and shared via all your digital channels.
Stealing a piece of what every PR practitioner does best; telling a story and developing a narrative for your brand is one of the most important elements of good reputation management. The best way to do this is by blogging. Weekly posts about the problems, issues, and insights relevant to clients, customers, prospective employers, and potential employees, as well as your general brand audience, is a powerful way to build a reputation in sync with professional goals. If a regular blog is too much, consider becoming a contributor of guest posts to the most well-read blogs or publications in your industry.
All in all, managing your reputation can be hard work, but it’s a crucial aspect for business and professional success. If anything, it can be a healthy boost to your confidence, showcasing the interesting, innovative, and unique things you or your brand are doing to shape a strong, forward-thinking position within the market that allows people to trust, engage, and understand you.
Is your brand looking to build a positive reputation? Contact Mulberry today to learn how we’ve helped brands with reputation management.
Kane Lewis is Public Relations Specialist at Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Australia. He has an eye for a compelling story and years of experience running successful PR campaigns to engage, influence, and impact key audiences.