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View point1 - managing reputation online


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View point1 - managing reputation online

  1. 1. reputation management and how it impacts on every aspect of a company’s online communications strategy. Issue 01 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” Jeff Bezos Chairman and CEO Amazon viewpoint Corporate brand communications
  2. 2. Issue 01 Managing reputation online viewpoint Plan,engage,anticipate: Managing your reputation online 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. Plan 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 Responsibility initiatives? Engage 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. Anticipate 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. 01
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  4. 4. Issue 01 viewpoint 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. Dark site 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. Issue centre 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. Management channel 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. 01 05 03
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  6. 6. Issue 01 clientview “Flexibility in a website Managing reputation online is key to proactively managing corporate reputation” Andy Freeman Web Communications Thames Water 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 and them. 05
  7. 7. View designed 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. 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. 06
  8. 8. 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 View The Penthouse Block A, Long Island House Warple Way London W3 0RG +44 0(20) 8811 8600 Corporate brand communications