While it is the Communication Department that is responsible for managing corporate reputation, the company’s stakeholders (its employees, suppliers, clients, etc.) also play a key role. This department is in charge of defining the message and brand values to be communicated. However, without specific actions that are measureable to demonstrate the effectiveness of the department, the team has no evidence to show the value of their work or know if they are reaching their goals.
One specific example of where the rest of the company should be involved is the management of negative comments online. We are not going to go into how to respond to negative comments because there is already a ton of literature on the subject, but we are going to talk about something else that’s just as important when it comes to dealing with negative online comments—detecting them and creating a system to manage them properly.
You see, these comments are not resolved with just a “we hear you and we are working on it,” but rather they should be linked to a response that is supported with an action. The goal of a communication team, when receiving negative comments, should be to rectify or clarify them as efficiently as possible. Here are some tips for doing so:
Rate comments by level of importance
Some monitoring tools rate impacts based on Estimated Publicity Value (for online media and blogs) and influence level (for social network accounts). However, these values are not 100% reliable because it is an estimate not a real value. For the second metric, each monitoring tool has a different type of influence indicator, which can vary according to how something is measured. So, how we deal with negative comments always depends on our own community or monitoring management policies. For larger companies that are frequently mention in the media and on social networks, the reply rate is often much slower. That’s why it’s key to rate the type of comment from a high to low scale to ensure the most important negative comments are dealt with the fastest.
When dealing with comments that are rated at high levels, act quickly
Negative reviews rated as high importance and that can have a negative effect on the company’s reputation, should be acted on swiftly. Comments to do with our company strategy should be addressed in a reputation committee which should be made up of the Senior Communication Manager, the Community Manager and the senior manager of the department that is being directly affected by this comment (HR, Operations, etc.). The communication team should evaluate the reputational risk from the comment and determine the best way to resolve this problem and how a final response shall be given. In some cases, this team may include the head of the company’s Legal Department.
Create a work process with Customer Care
For everyday customer problems, create a workflow with the Customer Care Department. Make sure to underline that providing a speedy response for negative comments is essential. In fact, customers who complain on social media expect as swift a response just like customers that use traditional channels. The only difference is that the negative review is online for everyone to see. Social networks have created many reputation crises for brands, that’s why you’ve got to deal with them as fast as possible. You don’t want a complaint to go viral.
Criticisms of the company’s internal policies
A company’s reputation is not based on communication messages; our reputation is what we are and the message we transmit to our audience. So, in order to manage negative reviews, the Communication and Marketing Department performs two roles:
- If we detect negative comments about the company’s internal policies and we have no short-term solution, we can create content with positive information about our company (and/or work with influencers that help us to distribute this content).
- To analyse whether these comments represent an actual situation that should change within the company and scale up proposals to improve.
Create your own news or content
There will always be negative comments that have no quick fix (another example are negative comments about the competition). In view of this situation, the best response is to use our own content that we can distribute to help mitigate negative reviews. Engaging the support of the top people in the company is also vital. Some notable examples are: A video of the CEO talking about care in the company’s QA processes, an infographic on the company’s history and operations in different countries and its contributions to the sector, or writing a detailed article on the advantages of certain products.
Drafting reputation reports
There is no better way to involve other members of the company than showing the positive or negative effects of our actions. The results matter and represent an important learning curve for everyone. That’s why reputation reports are so important to see whether or not we are being effective in our communication. These reports may include the following:
- The total number of mentions about our brand, spokespersons, products, etc.
- The sentiment of those mentions (positive, negative, neutral)
- The EPV (Estimated Publicity Value) of each mention
Encourage the use of social networks within the company
And last but not least, the company can be more proactive in its reputation management by embracing social networks and encouraging everyone in the company to participate. A negative comment about one of the company’s spokespersons on Twitter may be better addressed through that same spokesperson’s own Twitter account rather than on the company account. Show the people behind the brand because they are your most important asset! However, make sure that your employees have some guidelines and training on social media etiquette. You don’t want to have any inappropriate reactions causing even more negative comments!
Managing negative comments is not something just for the Communication and Marketing Department, it’s something that should involve the whole company. That’s the only way to build corporate reputation. It’s a group effort not a one-team job. It’s not just about how fast we react, but how we react that will enhance (or make worse) our brand’s image. You choose!