It’s been nearly a year now that we’ve watched as Tesco has consistently hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Plunging sales, leadership turmoil and a damaging fraud investigation have kept the retail giant front and centre of media and investor scrutiny, which has inevitably spilled over into declining customer trust.
However they’re not alone. Pick up a newspaper, watch the news or scan a media app and you won’t need to look too hard to find a business with a reputation problem on its hands. For every one of those businesses, there’s a PR person on the front line for whom the days and weeks ahead can look a little bleak, as they ponder how to save their company’s reputation from the onslaught of negative PR.
Yet what you don’t always see are the businesses that manage to push through negative PR, and continue on doing business as usual with their corporate reputations firmly intact (which often means we PR strategists and advisers are doing our jobs!).
Developing and managing a corporate reputation is a bit like managing your money. You get the best results through regular saving, investing wisely, and monitoring and mitigating risks so that you can weather a downturn. Simple in theory, yet sometimes it’s difficult for even the most successful businesses and admired brands to get it right.
The ‘saving and investing’ element is about ensuring there is a constant drip feed of interesting stories coming out of the business and landing across multiple communication channels, such that the results combine to build and strengthen a company’s reputation. It’s the Law of Compounding at work, and while Einstein first referred to it in relation to the power of atomic energy, it’s a universal law that applies equally to the power of positive PR. The more a business tells its good stories, the better its ability to use its strong reputation to move quickly through the inevitable times when a negative story hits.
When it comes to corporate PR there’s a lot to be said for the power of being positive – for telling your good stories often and to many different audiences. Media are highly diversified across traditional and online channels, which means there are multiple places to find a home for positive company stories through end-to-end storytelling. In addition, the plethora of social platforms and a wide and varied range of stakeholders means there’s no shortage of channels – and opportunities – to build your corporate profile.
In this regard content is king, and often it’s the outsider’s view that will help to work out what’s good news to the wider world. Every business has positive stories to tell, even those going through a rough patch.