A recent study conducted by a team of researchers surveyed over 300 executives, mostly C-suite and board directors, and discovered that reputation is considered the highest impact risk area to business strategy. This finding cuts across most industry sectors and ranks above threats to their business model and the impact of economic trends and competition.
Businesses and brands are increasingly seeking the services of companies that specialise in tidying up search engine results. The effect of a terrible review, a critical blog, an unflattering link or rant from a disgruntled ex-employee sitting in one of the top 10 Google spots can be devastating for a business as click-through rates plummet. Obviously, some companies have the online reputation they deserve, but an unjustified, malicious or obsolete complaint may linger for years, blighting every new query.
In most industry sectors, reputation has risen from outside the top five strategic risk concerns to the top of the list. In the energy and resources sector, for example, reputation ranked outside top-10 on the list of strategic risks in 2010, though today, it irritably sits on the top spot.
Large corporations and high-networth individuals are constantly targets of disenfranchised employees and customers. Companies and industries with reputation problems are prone to incur the wrath of legislators, regulators, shareholders and the public. However, what is said is not always a true reflection of a company. Perceptions are not always based on fact, but on opinion, conjecture and rumours.
“The breadth and depth of today’s reputational challenge is a consequence not just of the speed, severity, and unexpectedness of recent economic events but also of underlying shifts in the reputation environment. Those changes include the growing importance of Web-based participatory media, the increasing significance of NGOs and the declining trust in advertising,” said David Miller, spokesperson for aReputation.co.uk, an online reputation management company based in UK but operating extensively in the Indian sub-continent.
According to Miller, “the challenge with any reputation management crisis is effectively targeting those that need to be informed while not generating undue attention from those that don’t. The best way to accomplish this is