reputation management and how it
impacts on every aspect of a company’s online communications strategy.
Managing reputation online
The web environment provides many challenges: from putting in place basic
risk management policies to more
“ Reputation is what people
creative communications that enable
active engagement with stakeholders.
say about you when you’ve
But with a variety of both new threats
and opportunities how are the leading companies approaching this area?
left the room”
Chairman and CEO
Corporate brand communications
Managing reputation online viewpoint
A company's reputation takes a long time to build, but can be lost in moments.
In this issue we examine how leading companies use their websites to successfully
manage their reputation online.
These days a corporate website is the first place anybody looks when they
want to find out more about your company. It’s fundamental, therefore,
that your site strongly communicates your corporate values and positions
your company appropriately. Your website should be an ambassador for
your brand and everything it represents, and like any ambassador the site
should be able to confidently handle many different challenges and issues.
You can achieve this capability for your own site by planning and developing
an online reputation management strategy, the next time you plan changes
to your site. It doesn’t have to be a difficult or expensive exercise, but it is
one that will pay dividends when your reputation comes under attack.
Start by asking a few simple questions: How do we want people to experience
our company, our brand and our values online? What issues may our
organisation face in the future? How will the website help us rapidly promote
good news and manage our reputation in difficult times? How can we
enhance our reputation through thought leadership or Corporate Social
To create a strong platform that will help you manage your reputation online
you need to get the basics right. It’s vital that the website reflects all aspects
of your brand, so ensure all guidelines are followed, and that your site
demonstrates a consistent application of your visual identity, messaging,
style and tone-of-voice.
But a brand is more than just a correctly-positioned logo. At View, we think
a truly effective strategy is only achieved by understanding the reputational
issues you may face, and addressing them upfront on your site’s homepage.
A well-planned and positive editorial strategy makes a massive contribution
to the never-ending task of positioning your brand effectively.
Websites have also moved beyond just being passive reporting mechanisms
and can now significantly enhance the way you can engage people online.
Use rich media formats such as video to bring your brand story to life,
or develop Web 2.0 interfaces to open up dialogue with your stakeholders.
If executed well, this not only supports your overall brand strategy but can
give it new life, and open up opportunities to differentiate from the competition.
The reality is that no company can ever truly foresee the demands that might
be placed on its reputation in the future. Your online strategy, like your brand,
will evolve over time, so that it remains relevant to the growing needs of
the organisation. But ensuring you develop the right style of flexible online
presence will help ensure that your corporate reputation is agile and robust
enough to endure all eventualities.
Expect the best,
Managing reputation online
plan for the worst?
Even the best online reputation strategies can come unstuck during a crisis.
The following tools could prove invaluable in helping you deal with issues more
quickly and effectively if they do arise.
A dark site is a pre-prepared emergency site or content section that
can be made live the minute a crisis hits. No more last-minute fire fighting,
instead it allows issue-specific corporate statements, background information
and contact channels to be thought through calmly in advance and then
communicated without distortion at the push of a button when the
pressure is on.
A dedicated content area on your website that centralises all relevant
information on a specific longer-term issue faced by your company, for instance
a takeover bid or restructuring exercise. Ideally it should be prominently
positioned on your corporate homepage and cross-link to either the
Investor Relations section or the Media Centre.
An intranet-based platform accessible only to the senior management team.
It allows them to exchange information or documents and debate sensitive
issues in a confidential manner online. Once a course of action has been
agreed at management level it can be shared with the rest of the company.
Online reputation monitoring
Either through traditional research or the deployment of an automated issues
management tool to track online coverage about your company and provide
insight into what is being said about you in blogs, wikis, chatrooms or online
news sites. Gives an early warning radar on positive or negative sentiments
online and potentially allows you to plan wider engagement activities to
head off trouble before it arises.
First responder toolkit
Provide a helpful checklist for all your staff when dealing with a crisis. It should
be made available online and provide useful information, for instance: company
policies and procedures, a list of key external contacts, tips for answering
tough questions and coping with the press, as well as internal communications
templates for keeping employees abreast of updates to the situation.
Supporting communication channels
Don't neglect your traditional offline channels during a crisis!
Audio conferencing, press releases or company statements should complement
messages being released through your corporate website or online social
media. Press conferences can also be pre-taped or streamed live on
your website to ensure they reach the widest audience possible.
“Flexibility in a website
Managing reputation online
is key to proactively
There is no doubt that the internet is fast becoming the front line in managing
corporate reputation. Today, websites are not only being used reactively to
respond quickly to high profile or unexpected issues, but are in many cases the
channel of choice for communicating company news and information to
customers and stakeholders.
Reputation management is much more than a public relations or firefighting
exercise, and should play a central role in any new online communications project.
Flexibility in a website is key to proactively managing corporate reputation,
enabling you to tailor your communications, whether that be a glitzy campaign
launch, major announcement or crisis.
Establishing your website as the company's key communication tool is not only
the most cost effective and 'green' approach, but also enables you to keep your
communications current. The internet provides an opportunity to get your
messages out immediately, providing customers with reliable information that is
accessible and undistorted.
Successful websites don't have to be complicated or cost the earth - the focus
should be on getting the basics right. You should ask yourself, what do your
customers come to your website for, and can they find that information within one
or two clicks. Usability should be at the heart of your website - sometimes just
being simple, honest and transparent is enough to enhance your reputation.
In addition, taking advantage of new media opportunities such as YouTube,
blogs, social networking sites and email, is not only cost effective but can enhance
and support your communications.
Giving your customers the ability to interact with your company through a range
of online channels will leave them feeling that their opinions count and that you
are actively trying to reach them. Your website should be more than an outward
facing communications tool; it is a platform for two-way dialogue between you
View designed www.thameswater.co.uk to allow the company to communicate in a more open, transparent
and accessible manner. It combines a powerful platform for corporate brand communication with the capability
for improved crisis management and provides a valuable information resource for concerned customers
and businesses. During the summer of 2008 this in-built flexibility was put to good use after a burst water main
affected supply to many properties in the Thames Water region.
Google Analytics tracking showed a 680% increase in people visiting the corporate site compared to a typical day.
There was also a huge 1069% increase in visits from search engines that day as people went online seeking
additional information. The incident also reinforced the idea that bad news travels fast - with increased cross-linking
from all BBC media stories on the day of the water outage compared to normal days.
GSK.com is at the centre of a global network of over 300 company websites. This network is comprised of sites in
75 countries for local operating companies, the remainder being prescription and consumer healthcare product sites,
designed to engage, inform and build relationships with a range of stakeholders.
GlaxoSmithKline's corporate website had not been redesigned since its launch in 2000, after the merger of Glaxo
Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham. Research also highlighted that the website’s audience, largely comprised of
healthcare consumers, could not find the information they were looking for when visiting the site. An additional
problem was the fact that local market sites worked independently resulting in an uncoordinated approach to digital
communications and a lack of visual and editorial consistency across the group.
View partnered with GSK to develop a new digital strategy for the redesign and development of its corporate website.
The objective of the new site was to meet the information needs of a wider range of stakeholders, whilst reinforcing
GSK's brand strategy to create a positive impression of the company, building trust and loyalty in the process.
Recognising the need to more effectively engage with a wider range of stakeholder groups, following peer and
competition benchmarking and a number of third party reviews, Rio Tinto partnered with View to evolve its online
corporate communications platform.
Given the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility in today's business environment, in particular the mining and
exploration sector, it was felt that more should be made of Rio Tinto's work in the areas of human rights, sustainable
development and community engagement. In a revolutionary approach to online corporate communication,
a combination of striking visual imagery and a new, challenging editorial strategy, the new website enables Rio Tinto
to proactively manage its corporate reputation with a wide range of stakeholder groups.
As part of a global rebranding and group operations alignment exercise, View also developed digital design guidelines
resources and continues to provide ongoing creative consultancy to ensure the brand is communicated consistently
and coherently around the globe.
putation management and how it
pacts on every aspect of a company's online communications strategy.
he web environment provides many challenges: from putting in place basic
k management policies to more
eative communications that enable
tive engagement with stakeholders.
View is a corporate brand communications agency.
ut with a variety of both new threats
d opportunities how are the leading companies approaching this a way your
We think if you've got something to say, you should say it in area?
audiences will understand; whether you're launching a new website or
intranet, producing an annual report, developing a CSR strategy,
or creating an employer brand.
We work with a range of FTSE and global companies; our clients operate
across many sectors, including Energy & Utilities, Manufacturing, Technology,
Defence, Pharmaceutical and Financial Services.
For more information please contact:
Jason Ross, CEO
Tel: +44 (0)20 8811 8651
Ben Procter, Senior Account Director
Tel: +44 (0)20 8811 8613
Block A, Long Island House
+44 0(20) 8811 8600
Corporate brand communications