If the recent election showed anything, it’s that fighting dirty to get a result can backfire. As we demonstrate below, going too far when you’re faced with a competitor can damage your company’s reputation online.
Politicians rely on their reputations
Whether we like it or not, politics is a dirty game. People are often willing to sling mud by the bucket load to win an election. However it’s also a game where those involved have to maintain the cleanest of reputations. If they don’t, it can dissuade potential voters from going to the ballot box and cost them the election.
An editorial written in 2014 showed that 39% of people in the UK didn’t vote in the 2010 general election. It went on to quote results compiled by The Lodestone Political Survey on the same election, which show that 86% of non-voters specifically didn’t vote because they don’t trust politicians to be truthful. Therefore a politician’s reputation as a trustworthy individual can make the difference between winning and losing an election.
Dirty politics doesn’t pay
The quickest way to lose this reputation is by engaging in dirty politics. Who would trust a politician who resorts to mudslinging and other nefarious tactics to win an election?
Nobody, because engaging in this kind of behaviour suggests that the politician in question will act the same way once they become a legislator, which would damage the lives of the people who voted for them.
A recent article by Carter-Ruck pointed out that there are a number of ways that politicians can punish their opponents for fighting dirty. They can sue for defamation, obtain an injunction under the Representation of the People Act, complain to Ofcom (which requires broadcasters to be fair and balanced in their election coverage) or even go to the press. These actions could easily damage a politician’s reputation and persuade voters to either avoid the ballot or throw their support to the other candidate.
Labour “allegedly” smears Mike Freer
We can prove this by looking at the 2015 election. All the polls indicated that it’d the most hotly contested national poll in a generation. Therefore many politicians were desperate in the days before 7th May to get an edge over their rivals.
This is what the Conservative candidate for Finchley and Golders Green, Mike Freer, claimed happened to him. Finchley and Golders Green has the highest number of Jewish voters in the UK, according to The Jewish Chronicle.
In the run up to the election, Freer claimed that canvassers for his Labour opponent, Sarah Sackman, tried to dissuade orthodox Jews from voting for him by telling them that he’s gay (he is). If Sackman’s supporters did engage in this tactic, it backfired. He went to LGBT online news outlet Pink News to publicise his allegations and won Finchley and Golders Green with 50.9% of the vote to Sackman’s 39.7%, according to the BBC.
Businesses need to maintain their reputations
How does this translate to the reputation of your business? Companies need to inspire trust as much as politicians do. Data from the World Economic Forum shows that 25% of your company’s value is attributable to its reputation. Therefore, if you have a reputation for engaging in dirty tactics against your competitors it will damage your profit margins.
This is because businesses who fight dirty to outperform their competitors often catch the attention of local and national press outlets. These publications are particularly trusted as reliable sources of information by Google. So if you fight dirty against a competitor, it will more than likely appear in the first page of a Google search for your company’s name.
A report from AYTM Market Research shows that 74.3% of consumers use Google search as their primary tool for finding information online. This means that if the press finds out that your company has tried to smear a competitor, your target customer base will find out, which will damage your reputation online and cut into your profit margins.
Manage your company’s reputation online
This is why if you’re looking to outperform a competitor, you shouldn’t resort to smearing their reputation. You should cultivate a positive reputation online for your own business instead. This will allow you to take control of the first page of a Google search for your firm’s name and present a positive image of your venture to consumers.
Igniyte has a company reputation management service. As a part of this service we:
- Create, optimise and manage online assets such as social media profiles and blogs so that they rank on the first page of a Google search for your company’s name.
- Populate your digital assets with fresh relevant content. Google rewards assets with fresh, relevant content.
- Monitor search engines for brand mentions and sentiment for your business.
- Challenge unwanted and/or defamatory content posted about your business online.
- Create and circulate PR about your company to local and national news outlets to rank on Google.
Igniyte’s company reputation management service
If the 2015 election has taught you anything, it should be that fighting dirty doesn’t pay. If you want to outperform a competitor, instead of smearing their reputation you should to enhance your own with company reputation management.
If you want to find out more about Igniyte’s online reputation management services please contact Simon Wadsworth on tel: +44 (0) 203 542 8689 or email [email protected] in confidence.