Reverberate
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Reputation might be your most valuable asset

Reputation might be your most valuable asset

Repuation guage

 

It might not show up on your balance sheet but ignore the value of reputation at your peril, says Reverberate Managing Director, Philip Gibson...

Whether we admit it or not, most of us care about what others think of us. We are also constantly making judgements based on the reputation of others. But here's the thing: whilst most big organisations understand the value of reputation - and protect and enhance it through pro-active PR and communications - it is rarely considered in smaller organisations and, at farm level, mostly ignored altogether.

Of course, it is not like we are without other, more pressing issues in the agriculture and food chain. How are we going to cope with ongoing price volatility? What impact will Brexit have? Will supply chains survive? What about the perfect storm of population growth, resource scarcity and climate disruption? Or soil erosion, disease outbreaks, migrant labour, animal welfare and antibiotics? There is plenty to keep most people awake at night without adding reputation to the list as well. 

It is easy to take it for granted, too.  In fact, until your reputation is gone, often taking the business with it, it isn't given any financial value at all - it isn't a line on your balance sheet and you can't borrow against it.

But, whilst it is a cliché, the world we live in is changing and all businesses need to take note.

Porosity

OFCOM data suggests that 71% of adults in the UK have a smartphone and there are 91.5m mobile subscriptions in the UK: 1.4 mobile phone lines for every person. What this means is that there are millions of people that have a video camera, a stills camera and the ability to broadcast to the world at their fingertips. And they do: 100 million hours of video are posted on Facebook every day across the globe and 300 hours of video are published on YouTube every minute. Suddenly, anyone can be an internet star or can be maligned by millions. Your reputation is out there for everyone to see and everything you do can be seen globally in seconds.

Opportunity or threat?

This presents both opportunities and threats. When things are going well, or if you are proactive in managing your reputation, then the reach you can achieve, and the ease with which you can achieve it, is unbounded. Small businesses can flourish, with a global customer base far beyond what would have been feasible just a few short years ago.

But ignore the value of your reputation or make a mistake and it can be extremely costly. Joe Public is interested in agriculture and food. They care about what you do and how you do it. They might not always be well informed, but they react quickly when they don't like what they see. And, because social media is, by definition, a community, word spreads fast and large numbers of people can rapidly coalesce to a point of view that might not match yours. 

Whereas in the past the worst reputational threat for most small businesses and farms was that immediate peers and the local community thought badly of you, now the world watches and takes note.

Put a foot wrong now and the consequences are huge - not just for you but potentially for your customers and for your whole industry. History is littered with businesses that have failed, or at least stumbled badly, simply because of damage to reputation. And, like it or not, modern technology means that you can't hide in the countryside anymore. 

 

Three tips for managing reputation

1. Be aware.

Think about your business through others' eyes - what would they think of how you operate? What would they say to others? How can you deal with their concerns or promote the fact that you exceed their expectations? 

2. Be prepared to change.

It might be that your current way of working reflects badly on your business, even if it is the widely accepted or long established way of operating in your sector. Things move on and so you need to as well. What can you do differently to change perceptions?

3. Be proactive.

Don't wait for trouble - address it head on. Generally speaking, being as open and honest as possible helps resolve reputation threats quickly. Admit mistakes and share victories and reputation can be enhanced. 

 

Written by Reverberate at 15:33

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