Brand reputation has traditionally been the responsibility of corporate communications.
Public Relations firms are hired to manage reputational risk, orchestrate press meetings and shape brand perception.
The problem is that the digital era has disrupted the formal and structured process of Pubic Relations.
Social media has meant that complaints travel fast. Brands are boycotted overnight. Hashtags such as #DeleteFacebook and #StopHateForProfit gain momentum and attention every minute.
Reputation can take an age to build and yet be shattered in the blink of an eye. Recognising this shift is even more critical when you connect reputation to trust.
A study by TrustPilot investigated this further:
Over 93% said they read reviews before buying online from an unfamiliar company.
Nearly 62% of online shoppers perform a search for the company when unfamiliar with it – and few are likely to buy if they see negative reviews on the first page of the search results.
Nearly 48% of online shoppers had recommended a brand to others because of its stance on social issues.
Almost 83% of Gen Z-ers, the youngest up-and-coming generation of consumers, said they’d recommended others stop purchasing from a brand with a bad reputation
So, who connects the dots now that reputation isn't in hands that used to control it?
Well, I believe (in the same way as I do for social media) that reputation isn't 100% of one persons job but 1% of everyone's job.
As outlined in this article:
Reputation is created from many different factors, with elements coming from the departments of marketing, communications, product development, sales, customer service, quality assurance, corporate social responsibility, finance, compliance and more.
However, several issues are holding brands back, including:
Brands think of reputation management defensively
No-one holds the day-to-day holistic responsibility for it
It's difficult to manage reputation across functional silos
Trust in brands starts with trust in employees. This is where the connection between reputation and trust really starts.
If we stop thinking of employees as a brand risk on social media and started investing in their voice, it can be beneficial.
If brand reputation weren't left to communications to 'manage' but was built within the fabric of the organisation that would help.
Reputation is all about trust; it’s about how the whole company is viewed and perceived by society, customers, stakeholders and the market as a whole. A strong reputation is important because it builds a strong relationship with your customers. But, unfortunately, most leaders currently use reputation management only to mitigate damage during a scandal that’s already occurred.