How to improve a bad reputation
Reputation management 10115th Jun 2022
We chat with reputational managers to get some tips and tricks to tackle a bad reputation. Know what makes a good reputation, and what doesn’t.
According to Regine le Roux, managing director at Reputation Matters, the crux of a good reputation is having a set of strong core values.
‘Too often, these values are dreamt up by an executive team and then translated into beautiful posters and promptly forgotten about. However, your business values can greatly impact who you attract to your estate, so it is essential that they are ingrained into the DNA of all employees, and that you only engage with people and businesses that resonate with your values. They are essentially the guiding factors of your business, so they must be shared and talked about often, and especially modelled by the leadership team,’ she says. People want to do business and be associated with companies that have good values. Only once you properly understand what kind of values will help improve a reputation, can you effectively tackle a bad one.
Find the root cause
Michelle Cavé, founder and managing director of Brandfundi, suggests using surveys and personal conversations with key stakeholders – including employees, residents and subcontractors – to identify the full extent of the problem.
‘It is critical to understand if the issue is isolated or caused by a bigger problem. For example, residents or visitors may be receiving bad service at the entry gate because of a lack of training or low employee engagement, coupled with outdated or insufficient operational systems,’ she explains. Now that you know what the problem is, you need to work out how to solve it.
Consult the experts
Managing a reputation can be a mammoth task, so consider partnering with a reputable PR consultancy firm or contracting an expert to work in-house to help map out realistic recommendations to fix the problem.
‘Experts like me can help turn around favourable stories, and foster consistent relationships with key people in business, government and media, which can really help shift perceptions and win favour among all stakeholders,’ says Cavé.
Manage the message
Communication is key, so be prepared to address the individuals concerned head-on. Cavé’s advice is to be humble yet honest and acknowledge any wrongdoing on the part of the estate. ‘Address the concerns or negative experiences of the individuals in your message to demonstrate your understanding, and then provide assurances that a plan is in place to resolve or improve these. Where possible, provide timeframes so that people can hold you to account,’ she says.
Remember, communication can take place on more than one channel. Most estates have internal newsletters, a website, WhatsApp groups, social media platforms, and even mobile apps, so decide which channel, if not all, will be most suitable.
Earn back the trust
Remember that things won’t change overnight. ‘Building a reputation takes time, and there is, unfortunately, no quick fix when a reputation has been negatively compromised, but the sooner you start acting, the better,’ says Le Roux.
A good reputation is built on trust, which is built on reliability, honesty and consistency. The best way to earn back trust is to engage with affected stakeholders frequently with updates on what is being done, and what is still to be done. ‘Consider providing an opportunity for feedback and allow for open discussion and suggestions so that everyone always feels included and listened to,’ suggests Cavé.
Keep things in perspective
Finally, there is a big difference between a bad reputation and a few people talking badly about your estate, says Caroline Smith, head of PR at Flow Communication.
‘As human beings, we focus on the negative, so it is much easier to imagine that one negative comment can destroy your reputation, but one Tweet does not make a Twitter storm. Remember that negative comments, taken in context, are part of everyday business, and overreacting can sometimes make things worse,’ she warns.