Early Warning Signs — Your Reputation Is In Danger

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October 29, 2006

Early Warning Signs — Your Reputation Is In Danger

Early warning systems are increasingly important to companies who want to safeguard their reputations. An email from Nathan Gilliatt in response to our survey (Safeguarding Reputation) alerted me to a telling example of the benefits of early warning systems that went beyond the usual Kryptonite one that has circulated widely. On his blog he mentions a tragic incident with a Hasbro toy that first appeared on an amazon.com product review and luckily was noticed by an employee. The incident generated a recall from Hasbro before it made headlines. Gilliatt blogs:

“As we saw in the Hasbro example, a crisis may not be an ‘Internet’ problem, but online sources may provide the company’s first warning. Other high-profile bad-hair days have migrated from the online conversation to media that those executives do notice. Why would you voluntarily miss out on the opportunity to catch it before it’s a front-page crisis? You can decide whether it makes sense to engage bloggers in a crisis. It might make more sense to stay out of the conversation sometimes; it would certainly be harder to engage them once the crisis starts. But we’ve seen the examples of PR crises that started online before moving to a broader audience. Whether you choose to engage bloggers or not, you need to pay attention to what happens to your brand online.”

As we mention in the survey, only a minority of companies monitor the Internet for how they are being portrayed online. Gilliatt writes about the wisdom of “micro and macro monitoring” to help companies see emerging problems before they turn into catastrophes. He makes a good point and I am going to brush up on his advice.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross
lesliegainesross@gmail.com

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.

1Comment
  • Nathan Gilliatt
    Posted at 03:01h, 30 October Reply

    Thank you for your kind comments. I really see the Hasbro case as an example of something companies should do: pay attention to what customers say about them, wherever they say it. I was pleased that the company also demonstrated a willingness to talk to a blogger (me) as I was working on the piece.

    Blogs and review sites are (relatively) new and unfamiliar, but they create a new opportunity for companies to listen in as customers pass along recommendations. I think there’s a clear distinction between listening to social media, which every company should do, and interacting with bloggers, which can require a more nuanced approach.

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