5 Ways to Secure Your Company’s Reputation

best placesThis week we moved into a brand new state-of-the-art office building – the new headquarters for Hergenrother Enterprises (KW Vermont, Hergenrother Realty Group, Adam Hergenrother Training Organization, BlackRock Construction, and Hergenrother Foundation). Last week, Hergenrother Enterprises was named one of the Best Places to Work in Vermont. Both of these accomplishments were a testament to the hard work of my incredible team and garnered a lot of positive press.
I’ll take it! Because it’s not always this way. These moments in the spotlight are great, but fleeting. They will be up for a day, maybe two, and then replaced by the next big story – usually something controversial or provocative – whatever will get the most attention. For every positive piece of news about you in the media, there are five conversations swirling around the business community maligning your reputation, questioning your business practices, or just spreading rumors about you and your leadership. The funny thing, is the more success you have, the more people will try to tear you down.

There are two ways to build the biggest building in town:
1. Build the biggest building in town.
2. Tear down all the other buildings around you.

I will always choose option one. But my competition and your competition may choose option two and you’ve got to be prepared. So how do you get your company to stand out among the noise? How do maintain your company’s reputation day after day? How do you secure your company against the competition who may be determined to tear you down?
Perception is reality. It is your job to ensure that your company’s perception is pristine, that you are leading your company from a place of integrity, and that you are sharing your successes widely and often. No one else is going to do it for you.

strategic givingHere are five things you can implement to secure your company’s reputation against the competition:

  1. Earned media. Public relations. Free press. Whatever you want to call it. Go get it. The more good news you are putting out into the world, the better. It can be as simple as sharing a press release about your company’s latest charity event or sharing each new hire on social media. It’s great when your company receives an industry award, but if you aren’t sharing that with your followers, your customers, and your clients, they will never know. Publishing a weekly blog or monthly newsletter that highlights an employee or the success of a recent wellness initiative, all stack the cards in your favor. I’m not talking about paid advertising here. I’m talking about sharing your company’s story and inviting people to get involved – whether that’s with an upcoming volunteer project or to submit their resume for a career opportunity. I know your company is doing great things. It’s time to let the rest of the world know.
  2. Strategic giving. At a certain point in your career, you’re going to start getting asked to donate or sponsor events several times a week. I get it. There are thousands of amazing organizations, all with limited funding and resources. But your resources and charitable donation pool is limited too. This is where you’ve got to get strategic. With the funds that you do have allocated to charitable giving, make sure to work with organizations that you are passionate about and who align with your vision and mission. Your giving will go much further when you not only give monetarily to two or three organizations that your believe deeply in, but that you will also wiling donate your time to.
  3. Company culture. Your employees and business partners can be your biggest allies (or your biggest adversaries) when it comes to protecting your company’s reputation. Who knows the inner workings of your company better than your staff? What will they say about your company?  Is your culture strong enough to withstand your competition’s attempts to tear you down? Do you have weekly, monthly, and yearly company events to bring everyone together? Are you transparent when there are issues? Do your employees know they can come to you with concerns? Focus on your people. In fact, your people are the ones that create the culture, not you. Culture does not come from the top down, but from within the organization, based on each of the people you bring into your world. Protect your company culture fiercely. If your culture is strong your team will be your biggest defenders and advocates when there is a bump in the road.
  4. Leave your ego at the door. As you build your empire and start having more success, the target on your back becomes bigger. You are a threat to other businesses, and really at the core, you are making other people feel less significant. You will have people attack you personally and you are going to want to attack back; it’s just human nature. Don’t. It is not about you anymore. You have a company and hundreds, maybe thousands, of people, who depend on you for your sound judgement, integrity, and ability to remain calm and collected in the face of chaos. The decisions you make are not for you, they are for the good of the company. It doesn’t matter what is said about you, it’s about what is best for your company’s reputation, and what is best for the people you are responsible for. There is no room for ego at the top.
  5. No comment. When you’re faced with negative press, when rumors are flying, and when you’ve got reporters calling for an interview (and at some point this will happen to all of you as you’re building a business), just pause and consider your words carefully. Haters are gonna hate. You don’t want that negativity in your life. Take the high road. Simply reply no comment, or consult your lawyer for an appropriate response. If you don’t add fuel to the fire, the fire will die. Instead, focus on your team (point 3) and all the positive work you are doing and share (point 1)!

Did you notice that all of the points above are about YOU and your company? They have nothing to do with you competition. Keep your focus on bettering yourself and your company every day and you will always win.

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