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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Reputation Management - Stepping Stone to Success

“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the risk of comfortable inaction” - John F Kennedy

In February, I attended - as the only representative from the PR world -- a workshop at the Corporate Risk Management and Compliance Congress in Mumbai. The workshop focused on the newest buzzword in the corporate world – Reputation Management. 

Reputations are complex entities and understanding and protecting them have become an even more complicated process. Corporate India needs to stay updated with the changing work realities as it faces an increased susceptibility to corporate espionage, fraud and politically-motivated controversies that hog headlines and put the very foundation and reputation of companies at risk.

So, how do we assess, mitigate, monitor and manage situations that have the potential to destroy our reputation and in the long run, our businesses? How can we prevent a reputational risk issue from escalating into a crisis? The answer lies in effective Reputation Management. Companies have to, on a priority, integrate corporate communications and marketing functions to lay the foundation of a strong reputational risk management policy.

You may point out, and rightly so, that crisis mitigation is what most corporate communication agencies have been doing all these years. But each communication professional should have this basic understanding that effective crisis management is part of Reputation Management. And, this does not entail just “managing the media” or “killing a story”.

In recent times, we have seen an increasing demand from public relation agencies to manage their Reputation – Corporate or Brand. With multinationals setting up base in India and Indian companies acquiring companies globally, there is an increasing need to communicate with diverse audiences and local environment, thereby increasing the importance of Reputation Management. Thus, agencies like ours will need to gear up to work on mandates that go beyond traditional public relations (read media relations), with a strong emphasis on Reputation Management. 

So what’s the bottomline? Effective media management is not Reputation Management. So, when we sign on new clients, we need to undertake a comprehensive exercise to identify key audiences and then develop a campaign that goes beyond the media. As I said in the beginning, the answer lies in framing a risk management policy so that we don’t regret later. Build Good Reputation, Sustain Good Reputation and Protect Good Reputation.

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