Reputation management is a new slogan in the corporate imaging of private companies that pursue excellence in their
drive to promote the uniqueness of their positions as leaders in their fields. Some have even designated Reputation Manager
as the officer to be responsible for the promotion and protection of their image in the eyes of the public.
According to Ian Wright, President Institute of Public Relations (IPR), London, the reputation asset evolved over time as a result
of consistent excellent performance of organisations. Reputation is a value judgment about company’s attributes involving
esteem, credibility, loyalty and trust. Just like other basic principles of public relations, it is not addressing a new thing,
but reinstating the success and positive contributions of staff, operations and services, which the firms offer to the society.
Ian Wright listed the competitive edge of reputation to include its attempt to reduce barriers to competition, open new markets
and attract the best recruit, so as to supply the chain and business partners.
It also enhances access to capital and investors, creates a premium value for products and services and also protects the
business in times of crisis.
No company strives to fail or lose out in business. All the attributes that negate the essence of prestige and eminence
are curbed. From recruitment of competent staff to the retrenchment of redundant and in-effective ones, the organisation requires
extensive and strategic image building. By this, a company maintains loyalty, security and trust. It tries never to betray
public trust and confidence. It maintains and sustains strong cultures and good financial results. It also achieves production
targets and boosts its corporate social responsibility.
Reputation management also involves all the ingredients of effective public relations campaigns. Further effort is
made at projecting the stand and brand of the company at every business opportunity. It reinforces this by effective communication
with the general public, more especially, the targeted stakeholders. It also creates dialogue to meet and exceed expectations
by accurately reporting the activities and direction of the business strategy, so that confidence is built up and reputation
is fostered and nurtured. A company reputation is a license of its market confidence. The involvement of the United Bank for
Africa (UBA) and the First City Monument Bank in the Global System for Mobile Telecommunication (GSM) no doubt has the confidence
of the public due to their established enviable reputation in financial management.
Four groups make up the target of the corporate reputation of a company. They are the Management, the Employees, the
Brand and the Community.
In a big organisation, which has a household reputation, its management, from the chief executive to the manager, should
inculcate mature and cultured habit, which should be acceptable norms. In addition, being reputable, social and enlighten
high-flyer in the business, their names and experiences can further enhanced the existing corporate profile. It is when there
is confidence in the management that the investors are ever willing to contribute their fund. It may not be surprising that
organisations seek for the best brains who have human relations with ability to represent and boost the organisation’s
image in any event. The names alone, apart from accomplished career and enviable credentials of the top shot, the regulatory
bodies are rest assured of the security and stability of the firm to stand on its own in the economy with full confidence.
Brand is the name or trademark used to identify a product by its makers. It is the output of a company’s initiatives,
creativity and operation, which allows the company’s image to be judged by its services and products. The brand should
be so attractive that it should receive the admiration of the potential customers, the shareholders and distributors. After
all, it is the brand, which is the visible manifestation of the company that provides the wealth and profit on which the company
survives in the competitive market. Brand building involves a lot of creativity, ingenuity in the packaging and the message
that goes with such as its values, design and promotional jingles. It may not be simply produced, but it entails painstaking
research, and the use of mass-communication through appropriate mass media for expected mass response, which results to its
mass production to satisfy the mass of its consumers. Therefore, brand building should be sustained in such a way that it
engenders more loyalty.
Another important aspect of the corporate reputation is the way the firm carries its employees along. As the ambassador of the company, the workforce’s disposition and perception may be judged by the
public and rate the organisation accordingly. Some organisations earn public confidence not merely from their welfare packages
and job security, but by the kind of orientation the employees receive in public and human relations. Some are even impressed
by the mode of dressing; and how the employees carry themselves in public. Effective employee relations is desirable in projecting
the image of the firm to the outside world. Training and retraining on ethical standard, code of conduct and professionalism
for the employees are assets that pay a great dividend to the reputation of the firm in the public court. This is achievable
by communicating directly with them through their supervisors and by providing incentives to make them have sense of belonging
and feel as being members of the family. A firm that treats its employees shabbily would soon realise that its image is at
stake, if they resort to blackmail and revolt against the firm. No matter the financial position, the employee should always
be adequately informed on any development, which may have adverse effects. They may give their best and stand with the organisation
once they are treated well. The benefits of employee relations include, among other things, an improved performance, improved
safety, improved quality products and customer service, and efficiency at work.
It is when there is communication gap between the management and the employees that the latter express resentment,
mistrust, as well as anger, and in extreme cases, revolt as seen in the face-off between one of the leading banks and the
Nigeria Labour Congress, over the formers policy on unionism and recruitment exercise. The consequences of such misdemeanors
by the management are usually industrial actions, which do not augur well for any firm. Certain method should be adopted,
if the organisation intends to downsize. This could be by way of well-packaged and tempting severance gratuity, so that the
agony of disengagements would not be seriously felt by the victims. A justifiable reason should be proffered for any action
that may be otherwise detrimental to the employees.
To gain the community support, the operators in a given environment must contribute to the socio-economic development
of their host community and/or communities otherwise called catchments area. The reputation of the company in the community
is seen by the leaders on the number of people it employs among them. A number of community-based programmes can be undertaken
in areas of education, health, training in skill acquisition, donations, construction and appreciation of their cultural norms
and values. Construction of Classrooms, dispensaries and the sponsorship of indigent students of the community are now very
popular as some forms of community relation’s projects undertaken by companies. Julius Berger Nig Plc, the construction
giant, the Bank of the North, First Bank, Union Bank and major oil companies, are few examples noted for their contributions
and sponsorship of programmes in their host communities.
Above all, communication is essential in effective community relations so that whenever there is any turn of events,
the community leader will be willing to render support and defend the company that has been a good guest.