Don’t take your company’s good reputation for granted

Building your reputation

Your company’s reputation is its most valuable non-tangible asset.

We work to make sure that in business we have a ‘good name’. Yet, like a character out of ‘Downton Abbey’ we know that society will shun us for the slightest misdemeanour… I don’t mean getting a house-maid pregnant or shooting a footman… that’s taking the whole ‘Downton’ thing a bit far… But if you have a reputation for poor customer service, or shoddy goods, or not delivering what you promise, whether B2B or B2C you will get, what the Dowager Countess would call (with a raised eyebrow and a slight tilt of the head) a ‘reputation’.

The problem is in business, you aren’t in complete control of your reputation; it’s partly owned by the media and it’s partly owned by your sector. There is much more on this during my webinar which you can view below, but let’s look at one small but significant part of the media’s role in your reputation.

Beware “The Brownian Motion of News” – and, yes, it does deserve the definite article and the capital letters. It’s a process that many people underestimate, but it’s affecting your company right now, even though you and your colleagues may underestimate it.

Brownian motion describes the random motion of particles suspended in a fluid. “The Brownian Motion of News” describes the random motion of your company’s reputation as it’s suspended in the public glare; seemingly unrelated stories are bouncing off it all the time, changing the direction of your narrative. Most of the time you don’t even notice it − until it becomes a problem.

Take, for instance, what happened to director Neil Marshall as he prepared to release ‘The Descent’.

I interviewed Neil for the DVD release of the film, and while he knows his problems were in no way comparable to the tragedy that had occurred in London, he was quite frank about how those terrible events caused difficulties with the PR campaign of ‘The Decent’, and affected this film’s chances.

‘The Decent’ is a British horror film that follows a group of people trapped underground.

The release date of the film in the UK was 8 July 2005.

On July the 7th three bombs were detonated on the London Underground and one on a bus. 52 people lost their lives and over 700 people were injured. Many of the injured were trapped underground… awaiting rescue.

The personal tragedy for everyone involved can never be underestimated…
The bus that was destroyed in Tavistock Square had a large poster of ‘The Decent’ on the side of it.

No one wanted to see a film about being trapped underground after the news footage of people − real people, people like you and me − who had been trapped underground.

Sometimes there’s no way to avoid being sucked into someone else’s narrative, but you can, however, be flexible, fleet-footed and lean enough to make decisions quickly and avoid damage.

“The Brownian Motion of News” will just carry on regardless, but knowing it’s happening is your best defence.

On 4 December 2014, John presented on the live webinar ‘How to Transform Your Company’s Image’. Here is the recording. During this presentation, John will guide you through ways you can address your company’s narrative to improve and maintain your reputation.

Webinar Recording: How to Transform Your Company’s Image
The presentation starts at 1:59

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About the author

John Rockley is Media and Presentation Trainer and Consultant at jdoubler. He spent 16 years with the BBC where he became a Senior Broadcast Journalist. Since starting jdoubler he’s trained senior teams across the UK & Europe in Media Engagement, Presentation Skills and Crisis Media planning. In his spare time he helps raise his 2 children, gets cross about the news, and does needle work. For more information go to jdoubler.co.uk or connect via LinkedIn, Twitter or YouTube More blog posts by John Rockley ››
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