Many businesses nowadays face public relations crisis at one time or another. Any negative incident can have a forceful impact on a company’s reputation. The professional world expects you to be humane and show the way you handle such instances. Information and communication technology (ICT) has led to the empowerment of such professional individuals like, previously buyers were more dependent on sellers for product or service knowledge; whereas customers today, have easy access to several informational sources through the use of the internet.
The exchange of information online has never been transparent; as individuals can now have the opportunity and the platform to address their opinions on social media. Through tools such as customer ratings, comments and online communication have helped to enlighten customers about various products, services or companies. In this age of changing consumer demands, most organizations fail to eliminate risk factors residing within the immediate environment in which they are operating. Resultantly, digital transformation has helped predict such unforeseen market circumstances, thereby increasing the operational efficiency and remodeling the growth matrix.
In business and business related fields, corporate reputation plays an important part. During global economic development, the value of reputation also increases. Thus, to understand how online management strategies combat against customer threats, it is important to know the definition of reputation management. Which is:
“Online reputation management (ORM) is the practice of crafting strategies that shape or influence the public perception of an organization, individual or other entity on the Internet. It helps drive public opinion about a business and its products and services”.
In this world of modernization, where PR plays an essential role in revolutionizing businesses it is also necessary to have a PR crisis team and an effective plan set. As, crisis does not only affect one department of an organization but rather it affects its stakeholders and the society. Since, crisis are unpredictable events that can occur anytime and anywhere due to which, an organizations’ operations may get disturb and damage its overall reputation. Hence, a few crisis communication strategies (CCS) can be identified to respond to reputational threats:
- Detect the culprit: the management confronts the person who claims that a crisis exists.
- Rejection: simply refusing to the fact that there is no crisis.
- Excuse: Crisis manager tries to minimize the responsibility of the organization.
- Explanation: the management tries to minimize the perceived damage.
- Overpraise: stakeholders are given utmost preference.
- Corrective action plan: managers try to repair the damage caused by crisis.
- Authority: the management takes full responsibility to solve the crisis.
Research proves that reputation threats for organizations arise in crisis situations. It also acknowledges the fact that the evolution of web applications such as blogs, wikis, forums or social media web-sites lead to an indicative increase in potential reputation threats for organizations. Furthermore, many organizations have pointed out that a number of factors influence the corporate reputation. Especially in online environment organisations which are more open to customer criticism because one single comment can have an inverse result on companies’ online reputation.
Organisations need to be aware of the fact that everything that goes up online may not be perceived the way they expect and therefore, to prevent the company from reputational damage; they should prepare a plan to minimize the damage, by establishing a framework or a strategy. This kind of strategic plan should be integrated in every organizational structure to avoid complications in the implementation stage. Nevertheless, it is vital to act transparent and accentuate honesty by addressing its stakeholders. Training and development of employees to expand their online reputation regardless, of their current position in the target market may help them make a name and flourish virtually. Moreover, to cope with the online environment employees need guidance; so that they accept social media as an opportunity to communicate with their customer instead of considering it as a permanent threat, is essential for the an organization.