Online Reputation Management

What our reputation management services include:

  • Reputation tracking & support
  • Scenario planning and preparedness
  • Spokespeople & inhouse team training
  • Online reputation management

Your reputation is your most important asset. We’ll help you build and protect it.

Reputations are precarious in the digital age. Crises unfold quickly and stay around online for a long time. One of the best ways to prepare for bad news is to build up a bank of good, accurate news about your brand. Not only will this allow goodwill if something does go wrong, you’ll also have positive stories online to give a balanced view. Atmosphere uses a suite of tools to listen and learn how you’re perceived in the public eye and we provide expert counsel and ongoing support to ensure you consistently build resilience, credibility and brand love.

What is reputation management?

Made popular as a PR term, reputation management refers to monitoring and controlling a reputation to uphold a positive public perception of a brand.

How does reputation management work?

It’s fastidious work that involves consistent ‘listening’ across all channels your brand could possibly be mentioned on. From monitoring review sites and setting up Google alerts, to using online listening tools like Social Mention, verifying business partners and tapping into media monitoring tools like Meltwater; it’s a 360-degree exercise in assessing whether positive mentions outweigh negative ones. Another aspect is asking customers directly for their feedback – often that’s a simple and overlooked option when it comes to reputation management!

Our reputation management offering:

Atmosphere offers a comprehensive suite of specialised communication services, including:

  • Reputation tracking & support: We use online and social listening tools to track brand mentions and sentiment to instantly recognise any reputational threats.
  • Issue tracking & counsel: We track issue development and provide continuous counsel to ethically and efficiently deal with the problem.
  • Crisis management & counsel: We’ll be by your side providing timely crisis management: supplying steady, considered counsel, astute communications suggestions, and smart strategies to swiftly curb negative impact and reputational fallout.
  • Scenario planning and preparedness: Fail to plan and plan to fail. The best way to be prepared for a crisis is to prepare for a crisis. That means stringent future forecasting and scenario planning.
  • Spokespeople & inhouse team training: Never underestimate the impact of having one capable, charismatic spokesperson who can win the public to your cause. It’s important to have the whole team briefed on communication and basic crisis management techniques. We provide training to assist with this.
  • Crisis team structuring: We’ll assist you to put together a well-prepared, well-structured crisis team.
  • Online reputation management services: We’ll monitor brand mentions to track online reputation. We’ll also assist with content creation and media relations to build a positive brand perception.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us – we’re here to help!

Top reputation trends for 2020

In 2020, the Reputation Institute (RI) suggests there’ll be similar trends to ones we’ve seen before, but with more depth and consideration. Here are the top 3:

  1. Brands will need to build an authentic narrative around their core purpose. Consistency is critical to win stakeholders’ emotional buy in. Stick to your message, stick to your promises and stick to your purpose.
  2. Data will dominate. This isn’t a new idea, but the RI believes reputation data will enter new domains by being integrated into all enterprise data (market research, social trends, etc.). Deloitte research suggests 95% of CEOs see customer and client data as imperative for decision-making in a crisis… but just 15% are collecting this data. Going forward, this should increase.
  3. Soft KPIs will be key. In a time when businesses are expected to be bastions for social good, straightforward profit won’t suffice as a measure of success. Rather, companies – and their employees – will increasingly be judged by how much societal good they’re perceived to achieve. These non-financial KPIs will be part of sustained reputation management efforts.

Atmosphere also believes the pervasiveness of fake news and deepfakes will call for more trust-building than ever before. With increasing technological capacity to besmirch a reputation comes the need to build serious credibility and brand goodwill. That needs to be an ongoing business imperative brought about through strong relationships, scrupulous ethics and doing good.

A reputation management case study

In 2018, one of our anchor clients, Capitec Bank, was targeted by unscrupulous short sellers, who aimed to cause its share price to collapse. We have a very close partnership with Capitec and we worked together to manage the reputational fallout. Here are some of our lessons for dealing with a crisis of this kind of magnitude:

  • Say it all, fast: It’s important to put the correct information out there quickly, to balance the narrative before it spirals out of control
  • Present the media with the correct commentary: So that they don’t receive it from a source with its own agenda
  • Get the experts on your side: It’s vital to have objective, third-party spokespeople supporting your cause
  • Communicate with your stakeholders: Do this quickly and tailor messaging to the different groups
  • Pause other marketing campaigns: Review existing campaigns and stop any that have messaging that conflicts with your crisis response
  • Listen and adjust: Track sentiment so you can tweak your messaging accordingly

The worst reputation management scandals of 2019:

PR Daily did a round-up of PR reputation issues that defined 2019. Here are some of the top ones:

  • Boeing and the 737 Max: A faulty autopilot system and inadequately informed operators resulted in terrible tragedies and a grounding of 737 Max planes. Boeing has been severely criticised for its mishandling of the crisis, with a lack of transparency, ownership and immediate action to mitigate further crashes. Learning take away: Own up to mistakes immediately, admit what you don’t know, and take action to prioritise safety.
  • US college admission scandal: Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman and other prominent parents bribed school officials to secure their children’s spots at top universities. Loughlin in particular seemed disingenuous in her apology, which didn’t help her win back any favour. Learning take away: Be human and humble in how you respond, especially when you’re in the wrong. Act appropriately, say you’re sorry and be dignified under scrutiny.
  • Walmart and gun violence: Instead of reacting to the shooting in its El Paso store by taking a stand against firearms, Walmart launched a somewhat ill-considered campaign against video-game violence, which many saw as stalling and diversion tactics. It was only later, after pressure from its employees, that it pledged to relook what it sells. Learning take away: In situations like this, the public were looking to Walmart to be a leader and take decisive action. A tepid, lukewarm response doesn’t work during an emotionally charged situation.
  • Gillette #MeToo: Seemingly well-intentioned but ill-judged, the Gillette campaign took a hard stance, asking men to be ‘better’, although the brand has no previous history of social or political activism. The video didn’t go down well, with many perceiving the brand as coming across as opportunistic. Learning take away: Stick to your story. However well intentioned, getting involved in something topical and evocative that doesn’t directly relate to what you’re about comes across as inauthentic.

Our reputation management team

Our experienced team is headed up by Nicola Nel, our founder and MD, who is an expert in this field. Respected locally and internationally, she is an authority on communications and keeping a cool head! Regional director Megann Outram, director Julie Etheridge, business unit director Elizabeth Senger, and some of our most senior account directors complete the crisis and reputation management team.


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