Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Risk and Reputation Management

Interesting to read all the positive comments on my Blog of late and it has reminded me to write about an event I attended at my bank Coutts last week on the subject of 'Risk and Reputation Management'. Essentially about how reputations take years to build and minutes to destroy (tell me about it!) - and the kind of things you can do to avoid a reputation 'meltdown'.

Recent high profile examples have of course included Bernard Matthews (whose 'friendly Uncle' image was shattered when we saw what was going on being the facade of his Norfolk stately home), Northern Rock (whose brand was destroyed in a matter of days when consumer panic set in that their money was unsafe), as well as the classic example of Gerald Ratner (who announced his jewellery was 'crap' and lost his company Ratners as a result).

The discussion was mainly based on mass media and I know from personal experience that once the Press have decided they have it in for you it is very difficult to attract any positive coverage (just look at what they are still doing to Heather Mills if you need an example).

But one of the points I made during the evening was how powerful the online communication channel has been in trying to change the perceptions the mass media have created about me.

It was Steve Clayton at Microsoft who suggested I create a Blog and start getting active in online community forums to put forward my point of view - which actually goes a lot against traditional PR advice, which is to stay silent and adopt a 'no comment' status.

Since I created this Blog in June I've tried to post at least once a week, and I've also got Google Alerts going on a number of key business topics which lead me to post comments on other people's sites where I have a strong view.

And I've found it hugely effective in trying to turn the tide of opinion which back in 2005 (when my company Red Letter Days very publicly crashed) was incredibly negative - proven when I search Technorati for comments about me.

By the same token it has been an incredibly powerful tool to promote some of the projects I am now working on as well as traffic to my own website. In fact I would go as far as to say it is far easier and MORE powerful way for a business to promote its brand and its products than trying to get mainsteam media coverage.

Yet most of the media and business 'heavyweights' at the evening still seemed totally oblivious to the power of the web.

I think they all have a wake up call coming.


Steve said...

hey Rachel - good on you, spread the word! I'm glad to see you're enjoying the bloggging so much and finding it has an impact. I'm actually doign Startups Live again in Liverpool this month and going to tell the same story...but now with you as one of the case studies of success!

take care and hope all is well with the family


mike_b said...


If you really want to know the power of the web...not just in a PR context one of the web gurus armand morin did an experiment to prove a poin

He produced a single as an unheard of country singer "michael lee austin". Then pushed it to number 2 or 3 in the american charts just by knowing the power of web 2 and blogging.

And as for heavyweights not having a clue - just look at what theo invested in on dragons, an affiliate programme on gambling!!

gino128 said...

Glad you are seeing such benefit from the blog Rachel! Would be interested to see if there is still anything I could do to help the discussions on/around your website too.

Social networks are full of youthful, enthusiastic individuals looking for inspiration.

would love to hear from you again

paul (dot) fabretti @ gmail (dot) com

bluemonkey said...

I dread the day that the heavyweights create a blog purely for the purpose of keeping up with the trends. The nature of blogs is to be upfront, personal and hold nothing back. I think in 5-10 years time, nearly all major companies will have blogs, but they will probably be very closed, publicity minded with very low risk. They won't work.

To be brutally honest, when I knew you was speaking at the business start up event, the first thing I thought of was 'oh, didn't she used to be on Dragons Den but her business flopped?' - but having found this blog, it seems you contribute a lot more than all the existing members on the Dragons Den panel. I'm guessing this was part of the purpose behind the blog.

Rachel Elnaugh said...

Hi Bluemonkey

Yes, it is very difficult to change views via the mainstream media journalists (who in the main are paid to be negative and cynical), so over the past couple of years I have put all my energy into connecting with individuals via speaking at business events, personally responding when possible to all the emails I receive and of course writing this Blog.

Ultimately I would also like to help change the stigma attached to business failure in this country; Red Letter Days traded profitably and successfully for well over a decade before it crashed - but somehow that gets overlooked in favour of the sensationalist headline.

I really believe that it's difficult to make any progress and to 'grow'in life if you constantly live in fear of things not working.

We need to encourage people to at least try to achieve their dreams.



willswideweb said...

"it is very difficult to change views via the mainstream media journalists (who in the main are paid to be negative and cynical)"

I personally like to believe that I'd still be negative and cynical even if no one was paying me.

Stephen said...

Dear Rachel,

I believe that reputation is an illusion corroborated by people who would sooner walk over you in the street. Wheres the real value?

Would Microsoft have been any less successful had we not known who the CEO was? Are Swizerland or Denmark run any differently because we don't know who the Prime Ministers are?. For what its worth Red Letter Days IS a brilliant concept and from what i hear - the company has been handed over to other entrepreneurs to take forward.

Well done R.