The Importance of a Reputation Management Program


Tell us if you’ve heard this one before: A major energy company suddenly finds itself dealing with an oil spill where pictures of hurt marine animals are all over the news. Or a fast food chain sees a video go viral where a rat runs through one of its urban locations. Or a media company finds out one of its executives was engaging in inappropriate conduct with subordinates.


First thing’s first, companies need to deal with the root issue that has created a crisis. But at the same time, a savvy business should also start thinking about how to protect and rehabilitate their brand.


And that’s just what a successful company needs to do in times of strife. Modern brands are also under siege by a myriad of less dramatic forces. To stay ahead of real brand damage, it’s important to understand public perception and carefully manage your company’s biggest asset – your reputation.



Reputation & Crisis Management Go Hand-In-Hand


No single group has the last say on a brand. Every organization has a wide variety of groups who have a major impact on its success – customers, suppliers, employees, and even regulators.


For an organization to thrive it needs to maintain a strong reputation across every single one of the groups it interacts with. A poor reputation with even one critical group can cause significant harm all on its own – like if workers strike or suppliers no longer want to do business with your company.

But poor reputation among stakeholders is even more insidious than those direct problems. If a company finds itself in the middle of a crisis, cracks in the foundation of its reputation tend to widen and can take down a shaky business.



The Importance of a Reputation Management Program


Ideally, companies should have a reputation management program in place. What does that mean? That the business conducts regular surveys with key groups that are most important to the success of an organization.


The surveys are designed to have uniform metrics which can benchmarked so that the results can be compared over time both across audiences and against the competitors. The metrics typically include questions which evaluate the organization overall and on a handful of critical dimensions. There is also an opportunity to provide open-ended feedback so that the organization can understand the top concerns of stakeholders that they want to see addressed.


This reputation management research program allows senior management to understand in fundamental terms if things with key stakeholders are going in the right direction or headed off on the wrong track. Additionally, if changes are necessary, the program can identify the areas of weakness and provide suggestions about where to improve.



A Smart Crisis Strategy


Often when a company is in crisis mode, they want to react quickly. That’ s a good instinct, but if you make a move without the backing of solid and reliable research you could actually make the crisis worse.


The importance of a reputation management research program is especially acute when crisis strikes, because that framework doubles as a crisis management program. The data previously collected becomes a benchmark for comparison to the survey results from post-crisis situation, showing exactly how much damage the crisis has done to the organization and with which audiences.


Additionally, such surveys can show the extent to which news about the organization and communications from the organization have spread to key audiences.


Subsequent surveys can then demonstrate the extent to which an organization’s reputation is rebounding and how organizational communications efforts are influencing each audience.


With the help of a research professional, you can put in place a brand protection program that lets you know your company’s weaknesses ahead of any major event. And then when inevitable hard times do arrive, you’re able to best weather the storm and come out on the other side stronger for it.



About OvationMR


Andrew Ribner is Chief Research Officer at OvationMR and is responsible for Public Opinion Research, Online Panel and Online Sample Quality. He also consults with clients on research and sampling design for various types of online research campaigns and political polling. Andrew can be reached at

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