Opinion: Reputation management tips to help you sleep at night

Neil Bayley, director of corporate brands at Good Relations, says reputation management is as important as ever – and outlines two opportunities to help business leaders strengthen the resilience of their brands.

What keeps you awake at night? For most of us, there’s a long list from the mundane to mystical. But right now, business leaders are most worried about reputation, according to the British Standards Institution (BSI).

New research published last month looked at factors contributing to organisational resilience and found reputation protection tops the list of business leader priorities – even ahead of financial performance.

More than 40% of leaders the BSI surveyed believe their organisation is strongly susceptible to reputational risk. But the landscape seems tougher in the UK than some other countries. Here, just 55% rate their reputation as excellent or very good, compared to 75% in the US.

Of course, this isn’t a new. Warren Buffet once famously said: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it, so if leaders think about that, they may choose to do things differently.”

It’s no surprise leaders are concerned about risk

We live in an age when a post can circumnavigate the globe in seconds and trigger a crisis in corporate confidence. A time when most markets are under rapid digital transformation, so people have ever more freedom to vent with a Tweet or vote with their feet.

Business doesn’t exist in a neatly segmented world any longer. It’s an integral part of culture and very much part of everyday conversations, whether you’re a supermarket with a supply chain issue or an airline dealing with disruptive passengers.

So how can leaders worry less about reputational risk? Well the bad news is the risk landscape isn’t going to get easier. The levels of trust in business are at an all-time low, so they’ll have to work harder to maintain and build trust.

The good news is that technology has opened up our world and brought us closer, so I think this gives them two opportunities to strengthen resilience.

This first is through listening carefully online to how agendas and sentiment are changing, so they can monitor and react in real time.  The second is by finding things audiences really care about and, where leaders are investing in work that creates positive change, being able to share that directly or even get them involved.

Done well, this can build goodwill and trust in proactive ways that protect reputation – and lead to less disturbed sleep.

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