Too often, I see people trying to manage every aspect of reputation without taking the step back to measure and evaluate what really matters to them or their organization. Strategy is about making choices. Effective reputational management strategies begin with an understanding of what you and your organization want to stand for.
For me, it boils down to three simple questions: Who do you care about? (Audience);What aspect of your reputation do you care about? (Values); and What do you want to be famous for? (Competencies).
When I worked at P&G, we were at the leading edge of reputation measurement with major research organizations learning about the factors that mattered when it came to consumer purchasing behaviours. Now, data to measure reputation is more readily accessible from the organization level down to the individual. But as with most things, the measures need to be placed in context and the fundamentals haven’t changed.
Who do I care about? Personally, I care about my family and my friends. Professionally I care about my current, future and past customers and colleagues. I like to think that for the most part people have a positive impression of me, my work and JAd’E Communications. But, as my mother always told me, “you can’t please everyone”. So I strategically assess my reputation against the audiences I care most about.
What aspect of my reputation do I care about? This is about my values. I care that people see me both personally and professionally as fair, honest, reliable, and strong. If I learn that someone feels that I have not acted in accordance with my personal values, it’s time for the red flags to start popping up. So if I see or hear about something I’ve done or that JAd’E Communications has done that is inconsistent with my values, it is time for me to confront the situation and do some damage mitigation.
What do I want to be famous for? Clearly, I have dedicated my professional life to strategic communications and I want to be famous for being one of the best communicators in the business world. I want to be known for my abilities to help organizations achieve their business objectives through effective communications strategies and tactics. I also want to be known for mentoring others to improve their communications and general management skills. If I were to learn that my fame was offside from that course, once again I would have to look at how to bring my reputation back in line with what matters to me.
Overcoming data overload and avoiding overreaction to singular comments is easy when you know who you are, what you value and what you want to be famous for.