Warning signs that your company's reputation is at risk

Posted on 12 Dec 2019 by Firework PR

How robust is your company’s reputation?

From questionable business practices to dubious personal ethics of those in the public eye, the negative freefall of bad publicity seems relentless - renowned reputations ruined in hours. Some argue that the media is simply relentless in their thirst for a sensational news story but equally, how many organisations or individuals actually prepare for handling a crisis and get the right advice to mitigate the risks?

Of course, we’d say don’t wait for the crisis - there’s a real opportunity before that, which can be achieved by building a strong reputation based on trust and credibility, to provide a foundation of good will (or at least give you a break) if the worst happens. In today’s cynical and forensically reported world, it’s essential for all businesses to continually assess their reputational risks to avoid worst-case scenarios as much as possible.

So how can you tell if your organisation is heading towards a danger zone? Here are five signs that your business’ reputation could be at risk:

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1. Questionable ethics

Illegal or unethical business activity is perfect media fodder. Even a minor ethical issue resulting from a single employee's behaviour can significantly impact a business, seriously harming its reputation in hours if it isn’t handled effectively. Customers may stop working with a company or individual if negatively brought into the media spotlight, causing profits to plummet and a reputation left in tatters. Employees, partners and customers can be your biggest advocates – but they’ll soon desert you if you fail to act responsibly and with integrity.

2. Lax corporate social responsibility

Do you have a conscious marketing ethic? Do you have green policies, eco-friendly incentives and (really) care about the planet? With more consumers and investors concerned about environmental sustainability, corporate social responsibility is here to stay. In fact brands without a social conscience and purpose will soon be left behind. Cynicism of big corporations, in particular amongst millennials, is common place – numerous reports have placed ethics, trust and integrity the biggest factors in ensuring long-term business success. Does your corporate social responsibility plan stand up to scrutiny? A lack of authenticity behind an allegedly clear social purpose represents a real risk to your reputation – make sure such policies are grounded and real.

3. Sloppy customer service

Happy customers equal a network of powerful champions of your business. There’s little more effective than third party endorsement and the growth of online review sites demonstrates the power these can have – for the good and the bad. Customer satisfaction is a major differentiator between competitors. If yours are treated poorly, you risk significant damage to your reputation – they may change allegiance to a competitor and spread the work across their network.

To ensure customers act as brand ambassadors, you need to work hard to consistently improve the customer experience and ensure all consumers are well-served at every point of the customer journey. A customer centric approach really matters. Not only is it cheaper to keep existing customers than to find new ones, unhappy customers can disproportionately undermine any marketing efforts.

4. Disengaged employees

Satisfied employees are more likely to have greater loyalty to their employers, making it easier for them to promote the company even when they aren't on the job. Happy workers are also more likely to go out of their way to provide better client experiences and ensure customers are better served. Brands with good reputations are often recognised for being some of the happiest places to work – so check in to ensure the health of your staff is something to be proud about.

5. Cyber risks

While digital innovation can be the silver bullet for eradicating mundane tasks, driving productivity and freeing up people to higher value roles, on the flipside, it needs to be protected to ensure it is safe and compliant. Data breaches and cyber security risks represent a real threat that a significant percentage of businesses are still unprepared for. Compromised data privacy can wipe out your business value in hours and ruin any credibility or trust in your business – if it’s not handled appropriately.

If these points resonate, and you’re concerned that your company’s reputation is not quite as you’d like it to be, all is not lost! You can take the steps to reignite your reputation. Whether it’s sharpening your accountability or instigating a bold transformation, a formidable reputation will boost your credibility and ensure you’re more resilient if a crisis hits. Admittedly prevention is better – and far less damaging – than the post-crisis clean-up, which can often be mitigated, if not completely avoided. But equally, if you find yourself in a predicament that you’re not sure how to handle however, or want to get some preparation plans in place, get in touch. This could be one of those times that no coverage is a good result. Get in touch: hello@fireworkpr.co.uk or give us a call 01565 757883 – we’d love to help.

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