6 Steps for Protecting Corporate Reputation in the Social Media Age

Source: Mashable Business

Image Source:  Foglers



Layla Revis is vice president of digital influence at Ogilvy PR Worldwide. Her specialties include international affairs¸ tourism and multicultural marketing.

It takes years to build a good reputation¸ but seconds to damage it beyond repair¸ as executives at companies from Dell to Domino’s certainly have found out.

This was a sentiment echoed by executives at the Senior Corporate Communication Management Conference in New York when discussing social media and corporate reputation and how to embrace the new reality of immediate communications.

When you consider the sheer volume of earned media¸ or word of mouth generated on the Internet each and every day¸ it is clear that “controlling” messaging is no longer an option for large companies¸ who¸ for many years¸ have been in the driver’s seat when it comes to their own reputation.

So how can a reputation bashing be avoided on the social web? Open communications and speedy response are among the pointers for corporate communicators. Marcus Molina¸ SVP – Latin American Communications¸ MasterCard shared these classic examples of corporate crisis and advice on how manage them effectively.

Dell Computers

In 2005¸ Dell computer owners experienced problems with the company’s formerly excellent customer service. Jeff Jarvis¸ a Dell customer¸ went to war with Dell on his blog BuzzMachine. Jarvis’s campaign brought the power of blogs to international attention¸ but it’s important to keep in mind that¸ as Market Sentinal pointed out¸ corporate reputations are damaged not by bloggers¸ but by corporate missteps.

Dell’s problems arose from its failure to deliver on customer service promises¸ not from Jeff Jarvis’s blog. However¸ once the customer service problem became public¸ Dell committed a second error by failing to address in public the issues that Jeff Jarvis had raised. Dell later decided to engage by establishing Direct 2 Dell¸ it’s own blog channel to address the concerns head on.

United Airlines

When a country musician saw his guitar tossed by United air raft handlers and United refused to offer any reimbursement for his damaged instrument¸ he recorded a song and posted a video on YouTube which¸ to date¸ has garnered 11 million hits¸ and was picked up by major media outlets.

Here are those critical steps to heed to avoid crises:

  1. Don’t Pretend a Crisis Is Not Happening
  2. Don’t Make an Empty Gesture
  3. Don’t Refuse to Backtrack
  4. Develop Channels of Communication
  5. Establish a Crisis Communic