Recently our local PRSA had a speaker that talked to the group on reputation management.  This got me thinking about how this term, which in the past was typically thought of as a part of public relations, has become much more with the rise of the Internet, review sites and social media.

Although the focus of the term has changed, reputation management in my opinion is one of the most challenging responsibilities to public relations professionals.  While the Internet and social media have changed the meaning of reputation management, they have also increased the need for monitoring and protecting a brand’s or person’s reputation.  Coming from the client side and now being with the agency, I have found the challenge is the same – getting your clients or company executives to understand how managing a brand’s reputation can make or break your bottom-line.

Many clients and executives know they have to do things to improve their reputation and are willing to do so, but the challenge is to get them to understand how years of “doing good” and building a great reputation can be erased with one small incident.  It is easy for a company to get caught up in letting everyone know about the good they are doing, but not responding/managing those irritants that eventually lead to negative publicity.

During the presentation, it was discussed how important it is to have a public relations “conscience” in the boardroom.  I couldn’t agree more, by having PR at the table and being able to assess those big decisions, public relations becomes a proactive discipline not a reactive one which is when it works the best for brands.  As the saying goes, “a good offense is the best defense.”