You’re going on a first date? You google him.
You don’t know who to vote for? You google them.
In the age of technology, google can be your best friend or your worst enemy. A reputation is no longer limited to word of mouth sharing. Companies can easily take on the identity of one isolated incident that defines them for the rest of their existence.
How are companies managing this reputation? Anyone in public relations would recommend that the prime time to work on reputation is during the calm, long before the storm.
Just a few weeks ago, the nation was shocked by the Cincinnati Zoo tragedy. People were enraged by the killing of a rare animal, and the general feeling towards the Zoo was one of anger. A seemingly tragic accident was laced with blame. Just nearly three short weeks later, an all too similar situation happened at Disney. The outcry was so different this time. It was one of devastation, heartbreaking in nature.
What was the primary difference between the two incidents? Let’s rewind a second back to May 27th, the day before breaking news hit at the Cincinnati Zoo. The Cincinnati Zoo positioned themselves as a family fun place, but didn’t shy away from talking about the risks that came with attending. The Cincinnati Zoo haven’t been working on their reputation for years for this exact moment. Disney has. Disney is known as a magical place, the happiest place on earth. Bad things are considered accidents when your whole brand reputation is positive, jovial and rock solid intentional. Bad things are considered avoidable when you don’t carefully work to build a lasting reputation long before the negative incident.
Managing your reputation, whether you’re an organization or an individual, is a perpetual task. For those of you who haven’t been practicing reputation management, start now. Baby steps are okay.
Pride is a great reaction to have after hearing, “I googled you.”