When it comes to having a successful business, reputation is everything. With the rise of the internet, social media and review sites this has never been so important as we can now gauge opinions from the whole world – not just those who are close to us.

The reality is, however, that no matter what type of business you are in, there is a likelihood that you will have some sort of reputation crisis at some point, and it is important that you are prepared for it.

There are a number of ways that you can prepare and protect yourself from a reputation crisis, and here are just seven of them…

1.    Have a Good PR Strategy

According to Pagefield – expert communications consultants, “When a crisis, issue or dispute has the potential to tarnish your brand, a robust communications strategy is essential to keep your business reputation intact.”

It is important that you are able to effectively communicate with your customers and potential customers before a crisis as well as during and after it. A professional PR company will be able to help you to put across the right message, building your reputation as well as help you to react to any reputation crisis which might occur.

2.    Manage Expectations

Expectations are very important when it comes to how customers would feel about you and your business. Whether you are talking about your product or services themselves or even just how quickly you will respond to a complaint, it is important to set out realistic expectations – which you can then keep to.

They always say that it’s better to be pleasantly surprised that you are getting something better than you expected, than disappointed, so try to be realistic with your customers – they will definitely appreciate it!

3.    Honesty is the Best Policy

There’s nothing that people hate more than being lied to – whether it’s by their spouse or business that they thought that they could trust. Honesty is always the best policy in business – as you will almost always be found out, and this is a sure-fire way to destroy your reputation.

If someone leaves you a bad review, deal with it swiftly, don’t delete it. When it gets found, you will at best, look inept and that you don’t care about your customers. If there is a mistake made somewhere, acknowledge it, admit it and apologise, then do what you can to put it right.

4.    Social Media Protections

The strength of social media, in particular, can be very effective for disgruntled employees to show that they are upset with their employer. Although you might be a great employer there is always that chance that somebody might wish to do you harm.

It is important that you properly manage who has access to your social media accounts – as well as effectively monitor them – to ensure that employees who are upset or leaving cannot publish reputation damaging material, or at least make sure that you are able to quickly respond.

5.    Hire Professionals

Technology has always been moving quickly, but the internet is helping things speed up even more. Communications and social media are a fine example of this and it takes a professional to be able to keep on top of all the developments that are going on.

To be able to manage your company’s reputation properly, especially online, you will need to employ either an in-house professional or an agency to ensure that you are ready for whatever comes into your path.

6.    Have a Plan

The best way to deal with any kind of crisis – including a reputation crisis – is to have a plan already in place. Of course, you can never always foresee everything that might happen, but there is certainly a lot that you can predict.

If you have a robust plan of how to deal with different issues, you can be as prepared as you can be for anything that is thrown at you.

7.    Remember Who You Are

It is important to remember who you are and what you are trying to do. There are very few things in the world that everyone likes, so you will always have your critics. Although you want to be able to satisfy the majority of people, remember that not everyone will always be happy.

Your reputation, however, will be more intact if you deliver what you promise, communicate with people and stay honest.

The idea of a reputation crisis is a scary one for any business. However, with some preparation, you can both help to reduce the risk of this sort of crisis, as well as deal with in the least disruptive way possible if it does happen.

Article by Ruby Clarkson ruby.clarkson@harbourmail.co.uk

Writer, editor, animal lover and coffee enthusiast
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

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