It’s one thing to insure your business against the normal loss and risk that can happen to pretty much any organization anywhere, but how do you protect your business against rumors, defamation, and bad press? Bad news travels instantaneously in the digital age, so it’s important to understand how you manage your business reputation—off line and online.
The best insurance for your business’ reputation is to ensure you are doing business in a consistently legal, ethical, and fair way. Give your clients a good product or service, at a fair price, and always deliver on what’s been promised. Resolving disputes quickly and fairly will go a long way to fostering the kind of good will you need to drive a good reputation—online and in the real world. Because of the proliferation of sites like Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, and the like, it’s pretty easy for a private misstep of a business to become public knowledge. So, why make it easy on your critics by operating in ways that either push the ethical envelope or cross the socially acceptable line? Smart business owners know that the best way to do well is to do good.
Of course, it’s not always as easy as “do good things and good things happen,” and that’s where some intentional effort can really pay off. If your business doesn’t already have one, consider the value of putting into place a PR plan that includes a crisis response component. A 2011 study by PR firm Burnson-Marsteller found that more than HALF of companies around the world do not have a crisis plan. That’s a big exposure, and if your enterprise is among the 54% without a plan, consider this your invitation to get started on one!
When implementing a PR plan, make sure your key management staff and personnel are familiar with the plan and well versed with crisis response. When something goes sideways, the last thing you want is to have a disorganized or panicked response to the public and the media. While obviously not a form of insurance you can buy from an agent, a good PR plan does, nonetheless, provide some simple coverage for protecting your brand in the public eye.
Finally, a good search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is also a critical aspect of managing and protecting your business reputation. When a potential client is searching online for your services, it burnishes your reputation in their mind if your website appears on the first page of search results. It might seem like an odd pairing, website SEO and reputation insurance, but first impressions are lasting impressions. If your business is hard to find online, that might raise some red flags with potential clients!
We’d love to hear from you, and we’re always happy to help you figure out the best combination of coverage options for your business.
How do you manage your reputation? Tell us in the comments!