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10 steps for future-proofing reputation

· Reputation,Brand,Business


A company has two sides of its reputation:

1) its good reputation (how loved it is) and

2) its bad reputation (how hated it is).

Dr Peter Sandman, the world leader in outrage management will tell you that seeing these two as opposite extremes on a single spectrum is a conceptual error. It is possible to be both much-loved and much-hated. Moreover, the public steps companies can take to develop their positive reputation (e.g. philanthropy) are entirely different than the steps they can take to ameliorate their negative reputation (e.g. apologizing). Often the two are in direct competition: The things you do to calm your critics may irritate your supporters, while what you do to rally your supporters may enrage your critics.

Dr. Herbert Heitmann, Founder of the European Association of Communications Directors, and former Brand and Communications Director for Royal Dutch Shell, Bayer and SAP, has today published his 10-step plan to predictably steer the reputation of a company.

In each case where this approach was applied, Heitmann reports that the measured net-value of the desired reputation doubled in less than three years without a single additional resource.

His 10 step plan is as follows:

1. Brand and reputation need to be considered in early business decisions.

2. The gap between brand promise and stakeholder experience should be minimal.

3. Be fully aware of the dark side of your brand.

4. Develop your story, your references and your visuals.

5. Find others to talk your talk while you walk your walk

6. Pick the toughest to influence and the easiest to monitor

7. Engage with all, but measure with only tier 1 media

8. Measure net impact in major markets, vis-a-vis competition and more than once a year.

9. Let the business define what success means beforehand.

10. Celebrate from success, learn from failures.

The sector diversity, disparate strategies, and uniqueness of cultures across 3 highly regulated industries: energy, pharma and biotech and technology suggest that these 10 principals can be applied universally to driving a positive corporate reputation.

For more information and background on how he executed on these, check out the complete article in the latest issue of the EACD Communications Director or reach out to Herbert Heitmann directly.

A worthy read.


I appreciate that you are reading my post. Here, and on LinkedIn, I write about board related issues - corporate strategy, human capital, reputation risk, technology and innovation, corporate governance and risk management trends.

If we have met, do send me a LinkedIN invite. And, of course, feel free to also connect via Twitter.

If you are interested in more effective reputation risk management, improving corporate governance, using the Reputation Institute's RepTrak model to benchmark your company's reputation, or developing your digital, communications, responsible investment or sustainability strategies, do connect with us at RL Expert Group.

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