Work for Reputation

Work for Reputation

Even the most intelligent person is not able to objectively assess their own image potential and choose the ideal model to unleash the potential.

Life on the other side of the glass

The famous French self-made emperor Napoleon Bonaparte said, “He who stands high and in front of everyone should not allow himself to make rash movements.” I will add from myself: and if allows, then only well-considered impulses and prepared improvisations. Any manager, whether a business owner or a top manager authorized by the owner, is a priori more public than an ordinary employee.

This is a burden for some, but the final flourish of a high social status for others. In any case, this is a completely different context of being. What is it defined by? A wide circle of social contacts and a large number of social roles. Interest from the mass media. And finally, the number of people willing to throw a rotten tomato at you not necessarily for some violation of the norms of morality and law but out of banal envy, maliciousness, and meanness.

Advances in science and technology have made it possible for malicious individuals (grieved underlings, suitors for your position or market share, urban madmen) to do so anonymously and with high profile at the same time. Now it is enough to place the text in the right place in the Internet space, and the audience increases in geometric progression.

Reputation watcher or manager?

Leaving reputation building unattended is dangerous. The idea of a person’s personal and professional qualities, which was spontaneously formed, sometimes radically differs from the original. In the information age, reputation has become one of the primary factors of personal competitiveness and, indirectly, of the competitiveness of the business under your control.

Reputation must be managed. The easiest way is to find, as they say in the business environment, a “specially trained person” i.e., a PR specialist, a press secretary, etc. What qualities should such a specialist have? Enthusiasm, common sense, intellectual audacity, working capacity, and high emotional and social intelligence. The list can be continued by any person who is a good judge of character at least a bit.

But there is another question that is more difficult for employers to answer. What exactly should a specialist (whom you trust a precious reputation to) do? Many top figures mix up the functions of a corporate PR specialist and a personal press secretary. Of course, if you are the owner of a business and manage it according to the principle of “I have it my way,” it is your valid title to concentrate all PR efforts on your own person. For a non-business owner, who sooner or later will have to report on the results of the management activities, such egocentrism can cost one dear. In order to satisfy the personal ambitions of a full-time specialist, it is necessary to use them carefully. In this case, it is much more viable to consult with external experts from time to time.

Each PR specialist has his own level of qualification. One can look after the reputation like a watchman, fending off attacks occasionally. Another will enthusiastically take management of senses, information flows, and communication channels. The difference is in the level of professionalism and motivation; each manager must choose their hammer model for forging reputational happiness.

Self-expert in reputation

The simple truth known to every manager: if you want to do something well, do it yourself. Let’s add – or create a highly-reliable control mechanism. In the matters of reputation management, this principle works in the same way as in other areas, but there is a nuance.

Even the most intelligent person is not able to objectively assess their own image potential and choose the ideal model to unleash the potential. Therefore, if you decide to streamline the processes that create a reputation, you should first establish a diagnosis: identify personal PR resources and PR vulnerabilities. Then correctly form the path of using the first and neutralizing the second. With the participation of a specialist, of course, it doesn’t matter whether internal or external. The main thing for a specialist is to be well-versed.

When developing a strategy, avoid the Manilovism “I am a mouse and want to become a hedgehog” (inspired by a popular business anecdote). Bet on your strengths and figure out how to use them as effectively as possible. This is a joint task of both the manager and the PR expert, who acts in this situation as a kind of Michelangelo, cutting off everything superfluous from the image and revealing the diamond core of objective personal competitive advantages. Each facet is assigned to a different category of stakeholders – shareholders (if any), staff, business partners, journalists, officials, bankers, etc.

At the implementation stage, the key to the successful implementation of the developed strategy is effort, diligence, and adequacy of the promotion object. It does not mean at all that you need to rewrite articles and press releases, give phone comments on the verge of breaking the rules to anyone willing, without notifying PR specialists, and constantly update statuses on social networks. All these actions should be procedurally intelligently configured and not interfere with the main work; they should be performed not voluntarily, but taking into account the opinion of PR professionals. They, after all, get paid for it.

A manager or businessman who decides to take the reputation seriously, must learn to reflexively assess the reputational consequences of actions and words. Because, first of all, insider information inspires trust in the life on the other side of the glass. If you want to be considered a decent person, act like a decent person or have a good reason why you are deviating from “doing the dharma” in any given situation. It is written in the strategy that you are a democrat, so please do not isolate yourself from the team. It was decided that it is inappropriate to emphasize gender characteristics, so be a director, not a directress, a prime minister, not a ministress.

Every communication act – from saying good morning to the secretary to communicating with the governor – is a PR activity for you. Emphasis should be placed in such a way as to form the image of a person with whom you want to work (after all, people come to the company and leave from the manager), but not to twist their hands when signing a contract, whom you want to pay more money to and give more authority.

Yes, it is hard. No, it will not give an immediate effect. But reputation is the only asset that belongs to you indivisibly. And this is the primary reason to take care of it carefully and constantly.

Forbes 2014