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Business success is in eye of beholder

Society at large unconsciously judges by virtue of an image portrayed to them. This is the psychology behind corporate reputation management – perception is someone's reality and creates an expectation.
A recent radio talk show opened their telephone lines to listeners to debate the acceptability of using colloquial vernacular in business meetings. Feedback from the majority was that vernacular was inappropriate in business-speak. It was not a latent conservatism fuelling this response.

An organisation's reputation is a key predictor of the market power it wields. This is because reputation is the view generally held of an organisation's ability through the image it portrays and its public performance history. These impressions are built on media reports, the experiences customers and potential customers have with the organisation, and its messages and images conveyed by company leaders, employees, shareholders and key members of the public.

Spin-offs worthwhile

While it generally takes years to build a solid business reputation, the spin-offs make the work worthwhile. Brands with public esteem hold greater bargaining power for their service or product, and attract investment, new business and skilled employees more readily. Such organisations muster support from both the public and the media.

Reputation building requires a sustained and strategically aligned approach. As such reputation management should form an integral part of any marketing plan.

The current business environment is dynamic, and even though changes can be forecast with some reliability, surprises are still the order of the day. Not only should a company be able to flexibly react to market fluctuations both predicted and unforeseen, but it needs to be proactive in efforts to constantly improve its public image and communicate these along the proper channels, all based on its marketing objectives.

Ensuring that the message is heard is crucial as the public will draw its own conclusions where information is lacking; this is the power of rumour. The process therefore needs to be closely managed.

Detailed analysis

A detailed analysis helps one arrive at an effective reputation management strategy. Establishing what impression to be conveyed and to whom is the first point of reference. This will drive the reputational positioning of the company. The company's strategy, services, stakeholders, customers and any other factors having bearing on its reputation will thus be clearly delineated.

From here can be determined the best communication tactics to employ and how to benchmark outcomes. A well-researched media strategy, for example, aims for the company to have an authoritative and relevant presence in pertinent media.

Finally, tools should be designed for measuring the strategy's influence on how the company is being perceived relative to the defined outcomes, the competition and the industry at large.

So while beauty may only be skin deep, in the world of corporate reputation management your public image determines business success.

About Annalize Rossouw

Annalize Rossouw is a writer with corporate brand and reputation management company TerraNova. She has worked as a trainer and writer in the communications industry for five years. Annalize can be contacted on +27 (0)11 463 5713 or +27 (0)84 588 7497

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