In 1750, Benjamin Franklin said, "Glass, china and reputations are easily crack’d and never well mended.” Two-hundred and seventy-one years later, Franklin is still correct, but these days, data management technology and canny communications professionals can either manage a potentially reputation-damaging crisis or, ideally, prevent a crisis from happening in the first place. It is better to keep your china and glass intact on the public mantelpiece rather than reaching for the reputation management glue.
Signal AI has published a whitepaper on reputation management that focuses on data, which can often overwhelm organisations through its sheer volume. According to the whitepaper, data has myriad uses. It can be used to form strategies, measure the impact of communications activities and make better reputational decisions.
Artificial intelligence applications, for example, can be leveraged to sift through media coverage from news sites, broadcast media and blog content about your own or competitor organisations, or to find relevant regulatory data that is essential for compliance.
The global media landscape has changed so much in the past 20 years. The internet has seen newspaper sales slump as more people get their news online. While this has made it easier to access information, online media is a double-edged sword. It is much faster to publish online and this means the news cycle has sped up exponentially. In turn, this has led to more inaccurate reports being published and accepted as fact. The rise of so-called citizen journalism also comes into play, as anyone with an internet connection can publish without the traditional checks and balances of sub-editors or legal experts.
Important, world-changing, agenda-setting news stories have broken online, which is good for democracy and transparency. But, equally, misinformation gets out and negative reports about organisations or people are often published without any right of reply. When a proactive communications team monitors online media effectively, it becomes easier to spot these sorts of reports before they snowball into something bigger. The potential for reputation damage via some of the less credible corners of the internet can then be significantly reduced.
Knowledge has always been power and the sheer volume of information out there today makes it harder to leverage this power and use it constructively, which is why the Signal AI whitepaper advocates for enlisting AI.
Keeping a sharply focused eye on media coverage about your competitors – so you’re aware of their latest innovations, announcements – on regulatory requirements – especially for companies that must negotiate challenges such as post-Brexit requirements or ever-changing COVID rules – and on any negative coverage that may affect your own business – is essential for keeping a good reputation. A proactive communications team plays a vital role here. Preventing a possible reputation-damaging issue is far preferable to having to go into crisis-management mode.
Benjamin Franklin would not have known about the power of AI, but his words of wisdom about the fragility of reputations still resonate today. Proactively avoiding the headache of devising a damage-control plan is the best way to keep your reputation intact.