Building a strong and positive reputation as a business has never been easy, but in the heightened scrutiny of a constantly connected world, it has become a much harder task for you and your Asheville social media services partner.  Now, your tragedy is someone else’s click-bait, the social currency that comes from sharing is undeniable, and expressing mock outrage has essentially become a sport.  There’s no denying that the anonymity of the digital world brings out some of the worst aspects of humanity.

This can be a real problem for companies thrust into the spotlight for negative reasons, either of their own makings or due to circumstances beyond their control.  If you don’t fear the impact of widespread negative publicity, you should.  A recent example of this principle in play is the Peloton debacle.

The company’s ads are pretentious, to begin with, featuring already-perfect specimens cycling away in big-city lofts that cause actual city-dwellers to scoff at the square footage.  Then, for their holiday campaign, they chose a supposedly heartwarming ad where a husband gives his stick-thin wife an exercise machine for Christmas and she spends the next year killing herself to use it, videotaping the entire experience, and looking like a frightened hostage throughout.

The social backlash was near instantaneous and resulted in a massive drop in Peloton’s stock value.  Clearly, they didn’t read the social temperature, a lesson that you and your preferred partner in social media management in Asheville should heed.  Much smarter was Aviation Gin immediately hiring the same actress for a tongue-in-cheek spot intimating that she was leaving her husband and celebrating with her girlfriends and some tasty gin cocktails.

Peloton’s recent woes serve as a prime example of reputational risk and what it translates to in real-world losses.  Not only did stock prices plummet, but the company became a joke overnight, impacting how consumers feel about the brand and likely putting a dent in future sales.  Plus, the controversy now dominates search results for the brand.

What can you and your Asheville digital marketing team do to avoid this catastrophic situation?  How can you recover from an unexpected reputational bombshell, of your own making or otherwise?

Always Consider Reputational Risk

It’s not unusual for companies to engage in risk management on several levels.  For example, products are tested to ensure safety and avoid risks of harm to consumers that could lead to lawsuits, lost sales, and so on.  Strategic risk management is essential to company stability and growth.

Unfortunately, reputational risk isn’t particularly strategic.  Events that cast a brand in a negative light can be unpredictable and strike without warning.  How can you and your partner in digital marketing in Asheville, NC plan for such instances?  A good place to start is by weaving reputational risk discussion into major decisions so you can at least consider how the public might react and take steps to mitigate or avoid damage.

Push a Positive Narrative

While you can always find ways to skew brand perceptions in your favor, there are no guarantees about what consumers or the media will say about you.  What you do have complete control over is the content you choose to release, and you can certainly find ways to push a positive narrative and gain some moral leverage.

A good place to start is by collaborating with your Asheville digital marketing partner on strategies that highlight relatable core values, ideals, or charitable ventures, just for example.  Maybe your company treats employees exceptionally well.  Perhaps you make donations to charities for every purchase of certain goods.  Or you might be dedicated to operating with a carbon-neutral footprint.

Promoting your positive efforts not only helps you control your own narrative and shape a positive brand image, but it encourages like-minded consumers to connect with your brand and helps you to build a fiercely loyal online community, which could come to your aid in a crisis.

Engage in Reputation Management

Planning for the unexpected is no easy task, but it is possible to clean up your online reputation and counteract negative press when you have a recovery plan in place.  It starts with measuring risk.  This isn’t easy since the opinion of your company is largely subjective and varies based on a number of diverse factors beyond your control, such as personal experience, but there are strategies you can employ.

You can take polls and conduct surveys to get a random sampling of the market, and then begin to improve areas in which you are plagued by negative perceptions to build a positive base reputation.  When disaster strikes, you should have strategies in place to react immediately and start minimizing damage.  From there, you and your partner in social media management in Asheville can launch a counterattack to combat negative search results and replace them with positive references.

If you’re worried about reputational risk and you need help creating a positive narrative and planning for disaster recovery in the wake of negative press, contact Barking Dog Digital today to learn more about what our talented team can do for you.

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