Evaluating and Protecting Your Business’s Good Name
Part of the Business Ethics For Dummies Cheat Sheet
Research shows that companies with good reputations can charge higher prices for their goods and services — anywhere from 3 to 8 percent more than their less-reputable competitors.
So how do you figure out what your company’s reputation is and how you can improve it? The Reputation Institute offers an online diagnostic tool to help you find out. Based on your answers to 16 questions, the tool shows how your company rates on reputation management and offers suggested priorities and action items to improve your reputation management.
Of course, you need to protect your reputation, too, and sometimes you have to rehabilitate it. According to public relations agency Burson-Marsteller, corporate executives worldwide believe it takes more than three years for companies to recover from a reputation-damaging crisis. The executives surveyed identified the following top-five key steps to restoring a damaged reputation:
Disclose details as quickly as possible. Hiding from a problem doesn’t make it go away, and in today’s instant-news environment, delays in disclosing information can add significantly to reputation damage. Use social media and other outlets to get as much information out to the public as quickly as possible, and provide frequent updates for as long as necessary.
Be transparent in your corrective actions. If you don’t tell people what you’re doing to fix the problem, they’ll assume you aren’t doing anything. Let people know what you’re doing right now and what you intend to do in the coming days, weeks, and months to correct the issue.
Figure out what went wrong (and how you can prevent it from happening again). In late 2010, Qantas Airways immediately grounded all of its Airbus A380 planes after an engine on one of the jumbo airliners exploded shortly after takeoff. The grounding gave Qantas time to determine whether the problem was with the airplane or the engine (it was the engine) without risking additional incidents. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know what caused it, so do what you need to do to correctly identify what went wrong in the first place.
Strengthen your governance structure to prevent repeat missteps or scandals. Sometimes internal controls don’t work well, allowing mistakes or intentional misbehavior to slip through. Evaluate your policies and procedures to ensure you’re providing adequate checks and balances instead of concentrating too much authority in too few hands.
Talk to the media. The media spotlight can be harsh and unforgiving, but hanging out in the shadows can be far worse for your reputation. If you ignore the media, they’ll report on the story anyway — only without your input. View the media as a tool for communicating with your stakeholders, and use the opportunity to tell them what happened, what went wrong, and what you’re doing about it.
The more proactive and open you are in responding to a crisis, whether it’s a simple error or an outright scandal, the less damage your corporate reputation will suffer.