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By: Jennifer Tilliss

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Jun 19, 2015 | Our Business

Three Tips for Reputation-Building Through Communication: You Have to Stand for Something or Consumers Will Fall for Everyone Else

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The Reputation Institute (RI) recently released its annual US Hospitality RepTrak® study, which highlights the most reputable companies in the U.S. hospitality industry.

Why is reputation so important? The RI report notes that 60 percent of a consumer’s decision to buy from, recommend or invest in a company is based on his or her perception of that company. Compare that to the fact that a product or service itself only accounts for 40 percent of a purchasing decision. Put simply – we feel better about and are more likely to support a company we consider to have a good reputation.

From a communications standpoint, these findings have important implications for brands and companies of all sizes. Here are three ideas for your organization to consider when building or maintaining reputation:

1. Perception is reality.
Figure out what you stand for as an organization and talk about it…a lot. It takes time for a message to resonate with consumers. And, if you want that message to impact consumer perception, repetition is key. By clearly stating who you are and what you believe in and repeating it, consumers will come to have a better understanding about what your company or brand stands for. Chipotle, who landed in the top 10 on the RI list (and, in full disclosure, is a Linhart PR client) is a great example of this. Chipotle is all about “Food With Integrity,” which is all well and good, but what makes Chipotle stand out is that consumers associate the brand with this attribute and its corporate social responsibility focus. Chipotle burritos are amazing, but how much better do they taste when you know that just by buying one you’re helping Chipotle do good in the world?

2. Authenticity matters.
Consumers are pretty good at spotting BS. They can usually tell the difference between a company that is being real and a company that is trying really hard to say the right thing. Consumers respond to honesty, even if it means admitting a mistake. Think about some of your favorite brands on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Chances are that you’re still following or friends with the ones that have content that seems to come from a real live human being and you’ve have dropped the ones that come across “corporate” or robotic.

3. Filter the fluff.
Once you know who you are and what you stand for as a brand or company, this can and should be used a filter for all communication. Consistency is key to building and maintaining reputation. If you’re not speaking with the same reputation-defining and reputation-building language in all of your communication – from your website and social channels to your press releases to your employee communications – you may lose your audience’s trust and business. Use your reputation as a lens for writing and reviewing your internal and external communication and you’ll ensure that there’s congruity in all your messages.

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