Merriam-Webster defines “reputation” as the “overall quality of character as seen or judged by people in general.”
Let’s take a second to break that down in the context of your business. The main component of your business’ reputation is the quality of your company’s character. This includes your brand, the way your business’ personality is perceived and the quality of your work.
Contrary to popular belief, reputation management does not solely refer to saving face in the instance of disaster and steering your company away from a bad reputation. Of course, PR crisis management is important, but it is also important to remember that your business’ reputation is not just affected when something bad happens; it is affected all the time. It is affected when someone casually tells a friend about your business over coffee, when a customer posts a review on Yelp or when a press release is distributed in your name. No matter what you do, someone will judge your business for better or for worse.
So what does that mean? It means that instead of focusing on saving your business from face-damaging situations, you should also put energy toward building your name and your brand in a positive light. Focus on the best parts of your company’s character and work on building and projecting them. Is your brand seen as a family brand with loyal consumers? A community business? A corporate monopolizing machine? All of those elements contribute to a business’ reputation, so take the positive ones and play them up.
Here are a few tips on improving your reputation:
1. Be loyal. Remember that guy from high school who was a heartbreaker, making girls cry left and right? He probably had a bad reputation for being untrustworthy. Don’t be that business. If you give someone your word, keep your promise. In other words, be a good corporate neighbor.
2. Put the customer first. As a business owner, it can be easy to lose sight of the most important aspect of a business: Customer service. Be good to your customers, and they will say good things about you.
3. Contribute to the community. Whether you sit on a board for a nonprofit, donate money to a worthy cause or do pro bono work for an organization, people appreciate businesses that are active in the community. Plus, it’s great PR, and you never know what kind of connections will come of it!
Drive your energy into producing the highest quality work, being a good corporate neighbor and contributing to the community and your business will thrive with good relations and reviews. If you stick to the Golden Rule, then more often than not, people will reciprocate.