Reputation is a perception that can be built year by year but lost very quickly. Reputation acts on individuals, groups, communities, firms, corporations, organizations, countries, cultures, and even civilization.
It receives a great deal of attention among organizations that need differentiation to survive in today’s competitive market. It reveals the need for a response to the expectations of its stakeholders that produced an abstract concept which is defined as reputation management.
Corporate reputation reflects collective views about an organization or a synthesis and overall evaluation of an organizational stakeholder’s joint opinions and attitudes actualized about the organization over time. This evaluation is based on the stakeholder’s direct and/or indirect experiences with the organization, all types of communications that provide information about the organizations’ actions and discourse and/or a comparison with the actions of other matches.
Therefore, organizations need media support to maintain their reputations as desired. On the other hand, the media does not always play a helpful role in building good and sustainable reputations for organizations. The media itself has difficulty within the context of the protection of its own reputation.
Stakeholders have the power to question and to provide feedback to the companies. At the same time, they can also use these messages as a weapon against businesses to serve their own agenda. The collective voice of stakeholders, the nature of interactivity, speed and reach has considerably reduced corporate control over communication. Indulging in a two-way communication, these empowered stakeholders have taken on simultaneously the role of a journalist, a watchdog, and an opinion influencer.
Now possessed with the capability of voicing their opinions and expressing their concerns in open forums through multiple platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, etc., they can cause irreparable damage to the company reputation.
Crisis management is the process by which an organization deals with a disruptive and unexpected event that threatens to harm the organization, its stakeholders, or the general public.
Three elements are common to a crisis:
(1) a threat to the organization
(2) the element of surprise
(3) a short decision time.
Detecting Social Media Generated Crises
The only way to combat and lessen the impact of social media generated crises is to monitor social media dialogues and verify the validity of such content in order to respond before, during, and after a crisis incident. Taking the time to monitor, verify information and craft appropriate and effective responses is necessary to avoid legal issues and other complications and at the same time organizations should respond quickly. This equation derives the need to;
- Have regular updates and communication with stakeholders across multiple social media platform.
- Wide the need to span the boundaries of social media like for example recruiting, attracting online users with highly engaged social users and connect with influencers
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
- Develop new principles and best practices to determine what messages or images from stakeholder can lead to a crisis.
- Accept uncertainty and ambiguity, and remain calm, patient, and good humored.
On the other hand, social media monitoring can enable organizations to find out what the audience wants so they know what to provide them. It also can be used to improve the organization marketing efforts by tapping into the audience’s thoughts and seeing the audience’s reaction to the organization latest marketing campaign, product or announcement that help in improving the products or services, and better tailor them to the needs expressed. It also allows the organization to interact easily with their audience and make them more approachable, which showing potential customers that the organization has great customer service skills.
Suggested Tools in Monitoring Social Media Contents
An organization may need to have a media monitoring software tools like Google Analytics, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Icerocket, Social Mention, and Topsy that enables comprehensive media monitoring, listening, and analysis in real time, ensuring the organization are always on top of what is said about the brand regardless of the language and location.
Monitoring hashtags around an organization launched product, for example, will allow discovering customers’ likes and dislikes. Using some excellent hashtag tracking tools like Talkwalker, Hashtagify, or RiteTag will easily allow organizations to leverage this.
Moreover, location-based social media solutions like Geofeedia can easily help marketers connect with their most important customers and understand what’s being said at specific events.
Crises by definition are relatively rare events, dynamics, unpredictable, and crisis types are vary from one another. One of the universal goals for crisis communication is to reduce and contain harm. Organizations associated with crisis seek to limit damage to their reputation, avoid responsibility, and even shift blame. Crises communication is typically associated with public relations and the need for organizations to repair damaged images after a crisis disaster. Many crisis plans are developed as a general outline rather than step by step guides. Companies that have learned how to market their products online now have to understand that when a crisis erupts they also have to go online to protect their brands. Following need to be taken under consideration in the crisis communication;
- Telling the truth
- Well message articulation and convey;
- Initially take the responsibility of the situation and apologize for that
- Then after, Thank the online community for its role of bringing the management attention to the incident or crisis
- Thus, try to separate the company and brand from the act of individuals and convey the true message
- Then outline the steps and actions that will be followed to deal with the incident, as well as making sure this will not be happening again
- Fight viral with viral strategy; Use the same channel that the crisis was originated
Considerable Tips in Today’s Digital Age
- Emerging social media are not only used for marketing but also, they work in a serious crisis situation, thus the need to integrate social media into crisis communication strategies and create strategies for monitoring social media dialogues
- The critical importance of reaching out to a target audience on its own terms and in its own preferred space; As the crisis happened online so it needs to be dealt with online so that enabling the reach of the core audiences
- Companies can no longer count on the stone tablets of traditional media to alert them to reputational risk. They must have their fingers constantly on the pulse of public opinion, and today that pulse beats online.
- Engaging in the online conversation rather than dismissing it in a crisis; this takes companies away to utilize digital media not only for marketing or crisis communication but also for continuous communication, conversation, and community reach and thus maintaining mutual lines of communication between a company and its publics
- Companies need to respond quickly to the rapidly evolving digital environment
- Audiences are responsible for choosing media that meets their needs and gratification
- The importance of strong Public Relations in an organization to face any major crisis and sustain the organizational reputation and brand
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