Ayad Na­has: Thriv­ing in Busi­ness through rep­u­ta­tion man­age­ment

ArabAd - - CONTENTS - By Ayad Na­has, Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Strate­gist at one of Le­banon’s lead­ing real es­tate firms.

Hav­ing worked at a num­ber of lead­ing firms in the Mid­dle East, I re­al­ized that Cri­sis Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Rep­u­ta­tion Man­age­ment are two con­cepts that have not yet bloomed to be­come part of an all-en­com­pass­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion strat­egy.

Most com­pa­nies have a ten­dency of im­ple­ment­ing a re­ac­tive ap­proach when deal­ing with a cri­sis by only re­spond­ing to a given pub­li­ca­tion when faced with neg­a­tive public­ity, as they feel this ap­proach is the safest to up­keep their own per­cep­tion and rep­u­ta­tion.

It is im­por­tant to note that a com­pany’s most valu­able as­set, which shapes its rep­u­ta­tion vis a vis stake­hold­ers, is its per­cep­tion; i.e. the im­age that is formed about a firm in the minds of its share­hold­ers and cus­tomers.

Ac­cord­ingly, com­pa­nies should al­ways strive to­wards hav­ing sus­tained me­dia pres­ence while pro­mot­ing all their pos­i­tive at­tributes and achieve­ments, as part of a com­pre­hen­sive mar­ket­ing and cri­sis com­mu­ni­ca­tion strat­egy, which ed­u­cates the pub­lic at large about their suc­cesses, val­ues and mis­sion.

Even in a time of cri­sis, firms should pro­mote all the poli­cies they are in­tro­duc­ing to stay afloat in or­der to keep their stake­hold­ers in­formed. This is ex­tremely cru­cial for both pub­li­cally traded com­pa­nies across the re­gion as well as those in the pri­vate sec­tor to gain share­holder con­fi­dence.

The most ef­fec­tive strat­egy for com­pa­nies to com­mu­ni­cate, ei­ther through a thriv­ing econ­omy or a down­turn, is by uti­liz­ing the rel­e­vant so­cial me­dia channels, as well as con­ven­tional (print and broad­cast) me­dia out­lets. Both medi­ums are con­sid­ered by busi­ness lead­ers to­day as vi­tal sources where they can be in­formed about the lat­est hap­pen­ings and pro­mote their en­deav­ors.

It is ad­vis­able for com­pa­nies to de­velop sus­tained and com­pre­hen­sive cri­sis com­mu­ni­ca­tion and me­dia re­la­tions guidelines that would be fol­lowed strin­gently in or­der to sig­nif­i­cantly min­i­mize the risk of neg­a­tive public­ity. These should be vi­tal com­po­nents of an over­all com­mu­ni­ca­tion ap­proach and di­rec­tion.

Such an ap­proach should in­clude a so­cial me­dia cri­sis com­mu­ni­ca­tion strat­egy to deal with many prob­lem­atic sce­nar­ios. For ex­am­ple when faced with an an­gry cus­tomer on Face­book, where heated de­bates are very com­mon, it is very im­por­tant to ed­u­cate one’s au­di­ence by stat­ing all the facts, rather than take a bullish, ag­gres­sive ap­proach to prove them wrong.

The no­tion of cri­sis com­mu­ni­ca­tion should not make com­pa­nies weary of neg­a­tive con­se­quences. Any ma­jor cri­sis which is han­dled fa­vor­ably is most of­ten than not fol­lowed by an in­crease in stake­holder con­fi­dence.

In con­clu­sion, co­her­ent mar­ket­ing and cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tion strate­gies help in build­ing pos­i­tive rep­u­ta­tions and shap­ing fa­vor­able per­cep­tions. This ac­cord­ingly pro­vides busi­nesses with the com­mu­ni­ca­tion tools to thrive.

A com­pany’s most valu­able as­set, which shapes its rep­u­ta­tion vis a vis stake­hold­ers, is its per­cep­tion.

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