The firm I work for has its reputation seriously bashed. Though constrained from disclosing details of what it’s all about here, as a senior executive of the organisation I am so concerned, hence this request for your hints on what could aid our recovery from this unsavory situation. Thanks in anticipation – John O.
Just as it obtains in medicine, I’m yet to be aware of one medicine that cures all ailments (as I am not competing with any of those sellers of patent medicine that cure multiple ailments, in buses and ferries which ply Nigerian routes). Since you have not opened up to me on the exact curse of the wahala of your firm, providing tips on what should be applicable here is a bit far fetched. Don’t hesitate to contact me, in confidence (the doctor-to-patent type), to ‘bare your mind’ in order to facilitate my aiding your company on Reputation Recovery strategies.
I urge you not to lose hope and jump ship (with an eye on another job), as the effects of such bashing, if properly managed, do not exceed three and half to four years. Nevertheless, try to hold on to hints here as assistance for wading through your present predicament. Also, let us allow other readers, in similar situation, gain from goings-on here.
Company’s reputations are usually built on lots of efforts or hard work, but can be destroyed at a snap of the finger. Many will concur with me that large corporations or businesses of today started small in the past. Think about small businesses like: That grocery shop by the street corner; the barber’s where you regularly go for your hair cut; beauty salon where many women converge at weekends; etc. What about businesses classified as small which grow vegetables or are into diary farming, plan weddings or events; operate book shops, janitorial services, bars, dry cleaning, elementary school, and so on? These are often small at the beginning and grow over a period through hard work and reputations building on the part of their promoters, then may grow into entities with impressive capital investment and financial annual turnover that rank them as ‘big business’.
After so much hard work that yielded an expansion of such business, its reputation can over-night become smeared through any of, for example, – product tampering; poorly timed re-organization; inappropriate act (e.g. the managing director or Oga at the top being involved in shady deals or sexual scandal); labour dispute; a mishandled response to unfavourable occurrence; poor attitude or service, etc). It also takes a lot of hard work to restore lost company’s reputation. Here, reputation depicts how positively or negatively an organisation is perceived by its stakeholders (such as customers, investors, suppliers, the media, employees, etc). This most times tallies with competitiveness and profitability.
A firm’s financial standing is not as strong as its customer relationship (all businesses obviously exist at whelms of customers). Studies have shown that reputation contributes to not less than 60 per cent of companies’ market value. A company’s favourable reputation delivers competitive advantage and market differentiation. Reputation, no doubt, yields higher sales from satisfied customers, ability to attract best talents, referrals, and even helps in improving its relationship (e.g. with regulators, the government).
As I perceive that your organisation must have been seriously bashed going by your expression, even where one was not privy to the mode of crisis management input applied while the problem raged on, and inclined not to delve into the nitty-gritty of Crisis Marketing here, try to consider the hints below to facilitate Reputation Recovery efforts for your unsavory situation.
To succeed in this endeavour, your company’s recovery efforts should be aimed at the elimination of negative and harmful information about the organisation from public domain. After a critical examination of the situation, this should commence with an expression of regret or apology from your managing director and chief executive officer (MD/CEO) who (as number one man) the public will certainly take seriously, from obvious perception of being the “last bus stop”, and not any other designated company’s spokesperson.
Your company need not remain defenceless when faced with damaged reputation, but must express concern over likely detrimental effects of happenings on the public (bearing in mind that the above stated stakeholders comprise part of the public). Make commitment on improvement as a way of helping to rest any unfounded rumours. Give assess to substance of the bad reputation (if there’s truth in it or otherwise) by way of regular provision of all company’s information on the crisis to the public through the media, especial its corporate web site. Web disclosure or exposure through any other medium makes for accountability, as it aids the public in determining for itself that the company is putting efforts to right the wrongs.
Additionally and briefly, your company should not deviate from the following: It should be very public (raise it profile with upbeat advocacy advertising, public relations – with “open letter” types of advertorials and news releases, containing long term plans and schedules of activities; and other forms of promotions). Increased company’s visibility portrays strength, stability, and integrity. Tie these to your community through event sponsorship (e.g. sports, concert, grants, assistance to senior citizens, etc). These attract media interest, coverage, publicity, and goodwill. Make customers talk favourable about the company and reassure them through support programmes aimed at them.