Reputational management: What is it?

For most businesses, reputation is their most valuable and irreplaceable asset. Building a strong reputation can take years, and done right, it can help a business grow to new and more profitable heights. But reputation can be a fleeting thing, and just one wrong move can send your company's reputation tumbling from those heights, often never to recover. 

A carefully constructed risk management plan can help you avoid these disasters, especially when these three key areas are addressed: 

* Have a plan. Don't make the mistake of thinking "It won't happen to me." Take time to carefully plan out how you'd handle a reputation disaster the same way you'd plan out how to handle physical disasters against your business or its operations.
* Think before you post. When a customer complains, it's easy to ire off a sarcastic comment. But how you react in the face of criticism -- especially on broad social platforms -- says a lot about your company and can make or break your reputation. Have a plan -- possibly even including scripts -- for how to respond on social sites, over the phone, via email or though other types of customer contact and make sure your employees know about your policy.
* Plan social media campaigns carefully. When you post on Facebook, tweet, share or post a pic on Instagram, you're potentially posting to the world. Think through your social media campaigns carefully and be sure to play devil's advocate to uncover possible ways your campaign could be misinterpreted to otherwise go horribly wrong.

Remember: Complaints can be -- and usually are -- reposted on multiple social sites, not just the one where the faux pas occurred. In fact, few things cause people to be more vocal than a complaint, and having the world as their collective complaint department makes sharing bad experiences easier and more tempting than ever before. Managing your company's reputation can be complex and time-consuming, but considering the repercussions, it's a crucial part of doing business.

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