There are many facets that contribute to an organisation’s reputation. Well-established and popular organisations and brands, such as Coca-Cola, may appear to require little reputation management, but all organisations need to monitor and manage their reputation.
When discussing an organisation’s reputation we have the tendency to only include its reputation with customers. However, all stakeholder relationships are equally as vital as public perception. Employees, shareholders and suppliers have a large vested interest in an organisations success because their income relies on it. Therefore, public relations practitioners need to ensure that the organisation’s reputation is held in high regard with all stakeholders.
A poor reputation with any stakeholder group has the potential to affect the organisation’s success. An organisation may have a good reputation with customers by producing good quality products, however may not purchase those products if they disagree with the way employees are managed. As a result, shareholders may become disgruntled and suppliers unhappy due to a decrease in sales.
Poor reputations also have the potential to become public through the media. Practitioners need to monitor the organisation’s reputation with each stakeholder group to ensure positive relationships and the organisation’s success.
De Bussy, N. (2009) Reputation Management: A Driving Force for Action. In Chia, J. & Synnott, G. (Eds.). An Introduction to Public Relations, From Theory to Practice, Oxford University Press, (pp. 222-247). Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
Most organisations at some point will encounter issues or crises that have the potential to damage their reputation if not dealt with appropriately.
Issues that arise out of public awareness of a situation may not necessarily be directly associated or immediately damaging to an organisation, i.e. environmental issues. However, in trying to find examples, the media may focus on a particular organisation in reporting on certain issues. Public relations practitioners should be constantly aware of what issues are gaining influence in the public domain. In doing so, they can avoid public scrutiny and possibly put a positive spin on their dealing with a particular issue.
Crisis management, on the other hand, involves responding to a particular crisis that directly relates to an organisation. Dealing with a crisis will primarily involve implementing a strategic response via the media. This one area of public relations practice where media relations are vital.
Planning for a crisis includes developing strategies for hypothetical scenarios. It once again requires practitioners to be aware of not only what is happening in the current news, but also what is happening within the organisation. Members of BP were apparently aware of some of the issues that caused the oil disaster months prior to it actually occurring. Although the public relations representatives may have not been able to do anything to prevent the disaster, by being aware of a possible disaster they could have had the chance to develop strategies to lessen the negative press.
Working for an agency and being contracted to handle an issue or crisis could prove a lot more difficult than working in-house for an organisation. For both cases, it is essential that practitioners are aware of all the facts concerning an issue or crisis to avoid future back-lash and best represent the organisation.
Howell, G. (2009) An Issues-Crisis Perspective. In Chia, J. & Synnott, G. (Eds.). An Introduction to Public Relations, From Theory to Practice, Oxford University Press, (pp. 170-199). Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.