A business' reputation often precedes the actual operation, making it one of the most critical things to get right. For communication specialists this is even more relevant, as a solid reputation lays the foundation for long-term beneficial relationships.
But how can you differentiate yourself from other professionals and build a good, lasting reputation?
Consistency is key
Historically, making a great impression in person was effective enough to secure success. However, with the rise of technology and social media enabling a new level of transparency, it is now critical to consciously consider both risks and opportunities.
In a Harvard Business Review article, Robert Eccles, Scott Newquist and Roland Schatz emphasise that too many specialists are fighting a reactive battle to already happening crises instead of preempting risks to avoid them from happening to begin with.
To mitigate potential perils, being consistent should be the first goal. Delivering on promises and focusing on one main message rather than multiple conflicting points is crucial. When building your reputation, it is therefore important to know what your key messages are and structure an image around those.
Forbes contributor and founder of Network Under 40 Darrah Brustein also emphasises that doing what you say you will strengthens trust through reliability, which is of utmost importance when building a credible reputation.
Holistic approaches to professionalism
A strong image also relies on being professional online and offline no matter what. This goes beyond dressing well – something that should always be a priority as people make personal judgements in the first few seconds of meeting for the first time. In an increasingly digital world, maintaining integrity on all platforms of communication is of immense value.
As external pressures from entities – such as clients – become greater, it can be a challenge to remain determined and not fall into the seemingly easy path of gossip and unethical practises. Donald Trump's controversial approach for example has put him on the forefront of media in the past months, yet his reputation is nefarious.
What Mr Trump lacks severely, in the eyes of many, is integrity, which has had detrimental effects on his public image. This in turn steadily decreases perceived professionalism of the U.S presidential candidate and can inevitably perpetuate his bad reputation.
Building a strong reputation doesn't happen overnight or easily. Effective communication specialists should not only understand but use information around reputations to strategically choose how consistency, integrity and professionalism are incorporated throughout online and offline media.