You probably know all about your online reputation and monitor it like a hawk. Do you use tools to analyse what people are saying about your company or organisation? How do you react when you are criticised on social media?
Addressing issues in a crisis is just part of the story. The other side of the equation is the creation of content. A clear publication strategy producing regular high-quality content will help you rank highly in searches and ensure your positive messages will outperform the negative news.
A Deloitte survey found that reputation damage is the number one risk concern for business executives around the world. A reputational crisis can wipe tens of millions of dollars from a company’s value.
Before we get into how to enhance and protect your online reputation through brilliant content, let’s see what can go wrong. There are four classic mistakes organisations make:
1: Inaccessible content: There’s nothing more frustrating for people searching than not being able to find information put out by you. What happens when journalists and others can’t find it? They go to other sources, so you lose control of the story and the message.
2: Insensitive content: Put yourself in the shoes of your stakeholders. It’s important to consider issues like language, timing, and national and local sensitivities when communicating to diverse audiences.
3: Not doing your homework: Base your content on facts and make sure the information included is checked for accuracy – all content should be seen by a second person before it is published. Never make assumptions: check, ask, proof-read, and then and check again.
4: Being in ‘marketing la-la land’: This is a world where irrelevant, boring, and overblown content is the norm. Here, everyone loves your company and is eagerly awaiting your latest 400-page report on supply chains and the impact of regulation on your business.
What makes your particular service or product ‘unique’ or ‘innovative’? Using clichéd terms like these is best avoided. Technical and specialised information can be valuable if it’s packaged properly and the content remains engaging.
How to hit the right notes
These blunders that brands have made on social media may seem completely avoidable, but it can be easy to slip up if you haven’t got the right approach.
The key is to prioritize useful, easy to understand and credible material. By doing this you can simultaneously pre-empt a crisis and put your best foot forward.
You need a strategy that involves a consistent stream of optimised material. It should flow, be shareable, make sense and make you look good.
Once this is in place, you have to make sure you “feed the beast”. This means creating more content, updating it, maximising it and engaging with people. This demonstrates commitment and builds trust.
So, what is rock solid content?
Original and credible: Google and other search engines penalise content duplication. You need well-researched, well-written, original content. Reporting and sourcing information accurately is crucial to your reputation.
Informative, useful and human content: It’s not all about self-promotion. You need to have something to say, a story to tell and a narrative that is integrated with your strategy. It shows your expertise but with a ‘human face’.
Right package: You need strong headlines and visuals and to find the voice that resonates with your brand and audience.
Easy to digest: Content needs to simplify complex issues, data and long reports into digestible blogs, social videos, podcasts or any other way you choose to communicate with your audience.
Engaging, actionable and shareable: Are you addressing your clients’ and stakeholders’ concerns, are you involving them in a dialogue or are you just throwing information at them? The more you reflect your audiences, the more they will share your content.
Like a good recipe, you want users to rush to the kitchen and start cooking: this could mean using the information, sharing, becoming involved, joining or taking action.
Topical, up-to-date and in tune with your organisation: Ensure that what you put out is not the product of silo mentality. Avoiding a blinkered approach shows that you know what goes on in the world, in your industry, and in your company or organisation.
Material should be updated, refreshed and constantly rethought. Are you promising something you can no longer deliver? Perhaps someone forgot to delete or update a web page? Does it contradict something else you put out, your mission and values?
Thinking like a journalist, an activist, a customer, a competitor, an auditor, a regulator are all ways of pre-empting crises and producing the content that will bullet-proof your reputation.
Did you enjoy this post? Read ‘How digital communications can transform the fortunes of financial services’
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Catarina Walsh is an experienced journalist and writer at Formative Content.
Formative Content is a UK based content marketing agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients around the world.