Article
Written by Nick Driver
Posted on 25/08/2014

Influencing Reputation Management

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In today’s globally connected world, negative business news moves fast, and in a short period of time a firm’s reputation management can go from strong to in ruins. UK risk and business consultants Protiviti offer their ten keys to reputation management risk, and from this we summarise the need for a focus on strategy and culture. 

 

Make risk a large part of strategising 

Reputation management needs to start at the top of any organisation, with strong oversight from the board to ensure strategy is developed, policies are outlined and actions are executed. During the development of a risk reputation management strategy, the board should aim to achieve four outcomes:

  1. Understand inherent risks related to the wider corporate strategy, and how willing management is to face them
  2. Understand the main assumptions that influence the strategy
  3. Be prepared to spot unethical behaviour, actions that undermine brand values, and activities that are considered an unnecessary risk
  4. Establish whether the company has the capability to effectively manage its risk

During the strategic decision-making process, it is also important to think critically, and consider opposing views to long-held assumptions on what represents a danger to the company. By analysing various scenarios in depth, senior managers can fully understand the current structure in place to minimise risk, which helps to highlight any gaps and remain flexible to change. 
The ability to tell a good brand ‘story’ can also boost reputation when image, branding and communications activities come together well. Being customer-focused, having a full understanding of your value proposition and possessing the ability to develop powerful messages are all helpful to this.
 

Establish the right business culture 

Equally important to the reputation management strategy is establishing the right company culture to ensure the business acts as consumers and shareholders expect. Underlining the importance of full compliance to employees should be the first step here, as it will help in sustaining your firm’s reputation during difficult periods. 

Set values which accurately reflect your brand and incentivise employees to uphold them at all times. Like strategy, this can start from the top, and Protiviti notes the Treadway Commission’s ‘tone at the top’ theory. This suggests that if senior managers act in an ethical way and set the right tone, it trickles down to all other levels of the firm. However, Protiviti also recommend attention to ‘tone in the middle’ - as well as at the top - as middle managers’ actions can undermine their superiors. 
 

Don’t overlook the importance of reputation management

When business is good, any hit to your reputation can put an end to a period of prosperity, and when it’s bad, negative press can be catastrophic. Clearly, reputation management is not to be overlooked. By making it a vital part of strategy you can ensure risks beyond those that threaten finances are mitigated, and with a suitable culture in place, your employees can make a huge contribution to helping the firm navigate turbulent times.