The Ethics of Self Promotion Through Charitable Causes (A Case Study)

Social Media has been an excellent vehicle for businesses to promote their brands and products for years, and with a theoretical audience of over one billion users it’s a trend that’s set to continue for the foreseeable future. From that, it’s of little wonder that slowly people are starting to realise the potential for charities to make their mark on this global audience for the betterment of their respective causes. But what happens though when lines get crossed and businesses and charities start working together, and it becomes difficult to see exactly who’s getting the better deal? Continue reading “The Ethics of Self Promotion Through Charitable Causes (A Case Study)”

11th Hour Recruitment Horrors Avoidable With Reputation Management

Professional Recruitment Consultants worth their salt go through rigorous Candidate preparation throughout any placement process. This includes advising the Candidate on interview techniques, coaching on environment specifics, and how to handle ‘the counter-offer’. The counter-offer can see deals worth thousands of pounds fall through in an instant and ultimately there’s little that can be done after a Candidate’s mind is made up. Continue reading “11th Hour Recruitment Horrors Avoidable With Reputation Management”

The Conundrum of Reputational Risk

The lawsuit filed against Ernst & Young for their auditing of Lehman Brothers and their acceptance of the now notorious “Repo 105” manoeuvre that Lehman used to hide their leverage in their quarterly filing and thereby mislead investors as to the true state of their finances has revealed that some of  E&Y’s auditors were concerned and brought up the issue of “reputational risk”.

Reputational risk is growing more fashionable as a concept among strategy thinkers but rarely has much traction among the board or within the C-Suite where a fight between quick profit and long term reputation is usually a round one knockout to profit. Reputational risk is a function that considers the risk of reputation damage as one of the criteria in decision making. The question goes: “what will people think about us or our products if we make this decision, it might be profitable but long term will we lose out as our reputation suffers for being dishonest, etc.” Continue reading “The Conundrum of Reputational Risk”

Beware Corporate Wonk Humour Failure

1.3 million people have enjoyed Brian Maupin’s humorous attack on ignorant iPhone consumers and the equally amusing response. Everybody has laughed at the knowing humour except for some humourless corporate wonks at Best Buy who in spite of a total lack of connection between Best Buy and the video have suspended mobile salesman Brian Maupin on the basis that his video disparaged a brand they carried (iPhone/Apple) as well as the store itself and were fearful of stockholders & customers being turned off to Best Buy Mobile, as reported by Maupin.

In summary: individual makes funny comedic video about iphone buyers set in a magic roundabout setting without any branding or references to stores. BestBuy corporate HR department announce that it is about BestBuy and suspend employee.

Outcome: BestBuy corporate wonk sets up BestBuy brand to widespread derision for being humourless and painfully stupid. Incredibly, they have now made this a negative story about BestBuy, they have attacked a funny video and cut across the US freedom of speech rights. Arguably, what should happen is that they should have said nothing, or laughed it off. Why don’t they sack the corporate type responsible for this mess either because he has made BestBuy a laughing stock or, and why not, for being incredibly stupid.

What a salesman can tell you about your company

If you have ever done cold calling you will know what a tough and sometimes numbing activity it is. As every sales professional will tell you, it’s about doing the numbers. In other words, if you make enough calls you will makes your sales. After a while you prize one thing above all others in the people you call: honesty. If the person you call is honest with you, then you can be honest with them and it’ll just take a couple of minutes to assess whether there is a deal to be done. This is important as wasting time means not making the number of calls you need.

What is the normal situation? Dishonesty. They don’t tell you they are not interested, they don’t tell you what they need and they don’t explain the decision process. So, you witter on while they read emails until they ask you to send them some more information on email as though it is quicker for them to read the information rather than hear it from you.

What does all that tell us about the company they work for? Well, it suggests that the company is comfortable with dishonesty and to a certain extent, with a lack of professionalism. But does the company know this or care? Almost certainly not.  I have a reason to think like this:  I have noticed that the really great companies treat everybody the same whether they are customers or sales callers. They do not distinguish between different people or situations.

On the other hand, companies that treat sales callers badly and dishonestly often have a bit of a reputation for doing the same to their customers.

Great service is great service to whomsoever. So remember that the next time you forget that the guy making that sales call is potentially a customer and definately a human, you are doing yourself and your company no favours.

Business – Do you understand Reputation Management

Reputation Management
What would you do if a customer was standing outside your business front door shouting negative things?

There are certain types of industries that seem more prone to getting negative comments and competitors playing dirty tricks and trying to trash their company’s reputation.  Here are some of the main industries our clients come from recently:

  • Recruitment and HR
  • Construction and building
  • Celebrities
  • Travel agents / hotels and other accommodation types
  • Dating websites

I used to hear business owners talk about the Internet and not really understand it, back then companies just missed out on another great sales channel.  Today, however, I have to say when I hear a business owner having the same attitude I have to hold back from calling them crazy and telling them they will be out of business in 5 years.

Why do I feel so passionate about this, well in the past when you played ignorant to the Internet you were just loosing possible sales, but now people and competitors could be killing your business by trashing your reputation online.  Never has it been more important to take SEO and Online PR more serious, as a business owner you may not use the Internet much, but I am sure as hell your customers do.  You may not only be missing sales but loosing them when customers Google your company and see negative feedback and unhappy customer experiences.

If you had someone standing outside your business’s front door saying “your company was a scam, sold terrible products, had terrible customer services” then what would you do?  I am sure you would do something rather than ignore them, well the same thing could be happening online right now.

Every company now needs to take reputation management serious and not wait until negative comments and results appear on the first page of the search engines.  Businesses need a to have in place a proper procedure for complaints and feedback.  Monitoring or having a company like Reputation Management For defending your reputation online could prove invaluable.

Employee Reputation critical for organizations

Just how good it is when an Organization says that ‘Employees are their assets’, well let’s keep this debate aside for now. But here we are going to highlight how employees’ reputation creates a huge impact on those who look at you from the other side and just how critical it is for the reputation of your company..

Your employees’ carries the attitude and brand of your company. Have you ever noticed when visiting any office and waiting at the front office. I think this is the best place to analyze how true the employees carry the brand. You can feel the elements of the company culture and values coming through in the way people speak to each other and how they greet you. After all, employees are the caretakers of a company’s brand.

Employees and corporate reputation goes hand in hand. Though company reputation is vital, but employees are also the key factor that link to manage it. This generates positive performance and ultimately cements a place for you in this competitive era. So how to keep a positive reputation of your organization is about recognizing the significant role employees’ play in the overall positioning of corporate reputation.

However, to encourage employees to ‘live the brand’ are not much practiced. It is further suggested that to highlight your brand through your employees there has to be solid strategies in place. So when employees are trained to do their part perfectly the battle is half won. Let the employees know what actions are effective in return that successfully portray your strong brand.

In my opinion a brief training exercise and the know-how of the company and its regulation will go a long way in shaping employee reputation. Apprise them of the various vulnerability that could sabotage their reputation; for example ‘A tech savvy employee when comes across some website that has negative thing about the organization, what he should be doing? Persuade them to take advantage of the situation and come up with better solution to counter that after all it’s reputation at stake.

British Airways – Legal action to save reputation!

The 12-day strike called by Unite union looms large this holiday season putting hundreds of thousands of people and their travel plans in jeopardy. As British Airways fears the backlash, forums are swamped by passengers venting their anger against the insensitive approach of more than 13000 cabin crew who have voted for the strike.

The strike is planned in protest to the proposed pay and job cuts that BA has planned to ease its pension deficit of £3.7 billion which is likely to more than double to £8 billion this year. Unite union’s 13000 cabin crew are expected to join the strike even though they are paid double that of other airlines like Virgin.

In a bid to get the union to call off the strike and save its reputation, British Airways have resorted to legal action. “The airline called on Unite to call off the industrial action by 2pm today. The union has not done so and BA is now seeking an injunction to prevent the strike from going ahead,” the flag carrier’s chief executive Willie Walsh said in a statement last night. The legal action is taken on the grounds that there were irregularities in the strike ballot.

The papers are full of articles citing passenger anger at the strike which is to begin on December 22nd to Jan 2nd 2010.  Would you plan your holiday booking with British Airways after this fiasco? Chances are you will not, if this issue does not resolve well.

It would almost be impossible to recover from this bad reputation for BA. The service industry is constantly dogged by bad reviews, bad press, and negative forums and an internal crisis like this will be nothing short of a disaster for BA’s reputation.

Damage limitation is what is being resorted to and BA plans last-ditch talks to solve the issue.

Managing your online reputation – why and who with?

A lot of businesses sit in a tricky space when it comes to their brand reputation, and no where is it more vulnerable than in the online space. Now that this area has become the mainstream for brand engagement, promotion and peer to peer advocacy it really presents a difficult issue, especially if you have a brand that serves tow distinct audiences slightly differently.

Take Totaljobs.com for example, as the most highly visited commercial recruitment and career site across the UK, we serve an audience of over 2.5 million users each month, and we engage with them at an often difficult and stressful time of their lives, as they are job seeking, so our brand needs to be helpful, empowering and provide a ease with which to cut through the confusion of finding a new job. This done well, with supportive advice like our CareerDoctor service ( http://blog.totaljobs.com/), and a secure environment in which personal and professional details can be stored and searched and market leading jobseeker tools (Instant Job match, Location Proximity Search, Suggested Synonym Matching), can give the support and confidence for our users to find their next job, and as we all know happy people are our best advocates.

We also serve a huge audience of recruiters, of all sizes, and their needs are for a brand and service that can provide highly targetable, responsive groups of job seekers using simple recruiter tools such as Keyshots (targeting the latest 500 people to register to Totaljobs within the set criteria of location and job role the recruiter sets) through to live interactive chat forums such as GradU8.com. Again, this done well leads to enhanced brand value across a powerful set of voices in our market.

But what about the people who can’t find what they are looking for, or don’t feel the user experience or service they receive is valuable? Naturally, when serving such a wide and deep audience with two distinct needs, there will be people who feel this, and online provides them with plenty of opportunity to voice their displeasure, either publicly or privately. So, as a brand, what do we do in this situation? To be honest, it’s more about what you don’t do.

Getting involved in a public spat on or offline is never going to end well for a large brand, but at the same time you have to know what is being said, by whom, online. Once a rumour, a venting of dissatisfaction or damaging information gets out to the masses and goes viral it is next to impossible to stop. Having control over the message is key and to have control over the message you must be able to see everything that is happening in real time. Tools such as Google Alerts can see everything that is being said about our company on social websites like Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter to major news organizations such as BBC, Guardian and Sky News. The only way to have control is to be honest and transparent engage with the unsatisfied, but not in an ell encompassing public arena, you must have the channels for them to engage, question and seek clarity and advice, but you have to control the message in terms of forum and tone.

So, in ending, the internet has now become a very powerful and complex place that if managed right can be a great asset to a company such as Totaljobs.com, but if you do not have someone monitoring and being able to act with strategic actions then it can be a very dangerous place for you and your company. As newspapers decline and bloggers take over it may even become more vital to high profile individuals and companies. The question may well be how much people value their online brand? The answer right now? Probably more than the amount of resources they are willing to apply to managing it.

John Salt
Website Director

Does it matter what people say about you online?

By Nicola Ford, Head of Editorial, Trinity Mirror Digital Recruitment (TMDR)

Consumer blogs, discussion forums and feedback ratings are just some of the opportunities the internet offers to consumers who want their voices to be heard. With as little as a 30-second registration process, disgruntled consumers can now have a serious impact on the reputations of previously almost impermeable corporate giants.

Online reputation management (ORM) is the process of protecting a brand, product or business across the internet – both limiting damage following negative press or public response, and also reinforcing and promoting existing corporate values.

The proliferation of user-generated content online means all organisations both private and public need to take ORM very seriously. And it’s big business, in 2008 the UK ORM industry was worth £60million (source: Online Reputation and Buzz Monitoring Buyer’s Guide 2008, e-consultancy) – and as the internet continues to expand exponentially, so will the number of companies that need ORM.

Moreover, as companies continue to downsize to survive the recession, reputation management is increasingly important. If you don’t treat your exiting employees well, they might try to damage your reputation online, and your remaining employees might leave once the economy picks up. Companies need to safeguard their reputations for the future so they attract the best candidates to work for them.

But it’s not just organisations that need to worry about online reputation. With, on average, 80% of employers checking people online before interviewing them using social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn, candidates need to make sure their online ‘brand’ positions them correctly.

Most people take a reactive approach to their online brands only removing content they don’t want people to see. And although this is definitely part of it, it’s those people who are proactively building their online brands that will reap the biggest rewards – one of which is recruitment.

It’s estimated that 70% of all job opportunities are never advertised – in today’s tough market, jobseekers need to tap into this hidden job market and online networking is a great way of doing this. It’s not just making sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date – it’s about positioning yourself as a credible player in a particular field. There are a variety of methods to build up your online following: blogging, participating in discussion forums, Tweeting and so on.

A successful personal online brand does take time and effort to establish itself but the benefits can be great. By establishing a great online reputation for yourself, you should attract companies, professional contacts and friends with great reputations in return. And if that’s not enough to convince you, think of the alternative – competing with the majority of people for the 30% of job opportunities that are in the public domain…

And fortunately, there’s help available to make sure your online brand positions you as the sort of employee companies want to recruit. Services like Workthing which provides you with all the tools and advice you need to take a proactive approach to managing your reputation online.