A recent study has shown that company reputation is worth more than a quarter of a company’s value – collectively £1.7trillion in the UK alone – yet a quarter of companies still continue to avoid focusing on maintaining it.
Having a good public profile is a priority that many businesses continue to avoid. According to the small and mid-cap sentiment index, which is compiled by the Quoted Companies Alliance and BDO, a company’s reputation is worth 28% of its value.
Lack of realisation
Across the UK, the value of corporate reputation topped £1.7million in 2015. The study polled 220 businesses; two-thirds admitted they don’t have any plans in place to manage it. Financial advisers were also quizzed as part of the study, and 40% believe that UK firms are completely unprepared.
One adviser told the Telegraph: “Many clients fail to appreciate the damage that seemingly innocuous news can do to their share price and ability to raise further funds… high profile failures haven’t helped. Lack of liquidity amplifies small changes in shareholder sentiment.”
Every year, many businesses suffer substantial reputational damage due to lack of preparation for reputation shocks. One of the main large companies which found difficulties in 2015 was Volkswagen – proof that no company is exempt.
Speaking at the time, Igniyte’s managing partner Caroline Skipsey explained: “A company of this size will surely have procedures in place to minimise reputational risk – at some point, a decision was made at board level to deliberately mislead the authorities.”
In this case, it was no accident and Volkswagen broke environmental laws, which mean this is no quick-fix. Rarely can a company’s reputation be recovered once it’s broken, so it’s important that your company consistently safeguards its status from potential crises. Particularly when you have a loyal, long-standing customer base, recovery can be incredibly difficult.
Making reputation a priority
So what are the best ways to safeguard your company’s reputation? You can take a few simple steps to ensure you minimise reputational risks.
- Create online assets: By ‘owning’ page one of Google for your business, you’ll reduce the risks of unwanted comments on forums and negative news from causing any issues online. Create and maintain company websites and a range of other social assets to populate the first page of a Google search for your firm’s name with positive assets.
- Create relevant content: A key ranking factor for websites in Google is the regular supply of high-quality, relevant content. Use keywords such as your company name regularly where applicable and be sure to link to your assets, as well as other relevant sites. Ensure it appeals to your target audience in order to build a loyal following.
- Optimise assets: Ensure you have relevant profiles on sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Not only can you use these to communicate with customers and develop a rapport, but you can also share your content to a wide audience, to attract new business.
- Monitor your name: You should set up Google Alerts for your company’s name and regularly check what people are saying about your business. This will allow you to respond to any complaints promptly, as well as make internal changes where appropriate for recurring issues.
- Generate PR opportunities – One of the main problems for companies can be negative press. With the steady output of relevant news and information about your business to local, regional and – where possible – national press, your company can manage the first page of a Google search for your name effectively.
You can get a more in-depth guide to managing your online reputation from our Ten Tips for Company Reputation Management.