As good as your word
It’s hard won and easily lost. Attending the second and final day of the IoIC Live in Birmingham, 44’s Phil Parrish picked up some important insights about the art of reputation…
What does ‘reputation’ mean in the 21st century business world, and how can it be measured like a tangible asset in a similar way to materials, equipment and other physical resources?
Friday’s first speaker, Ed Coke from Repute Associates, believes all reputations consist of three defining characteristics: the values we believe in, the behaviours we demonstrate and the competencies we have.
If you’re not measuring all three – regularly, holistically and methodically – you won’t have a clear picture of what your reputation is and how it’s helping or hindering you.
It’s a challenge made even more complex by the fact that, according to Repute’s own research, there’s a huge gulf between the impact employees feel they can potentially have on their organisation’s reputation (many of us do) and the opportunities we actually have to make that impact (many of us don’t).
There have been plenty of upsides, according to Bill. IC is now a more mature discipline, has greater prominence at senior leadership level and there’s less distinction than ever between internal and external communications.
Nevertheless, it’s more complicated than ever too. With more channels, newer technologies and increased employee and employer expectations, an IC professional’s task is a much more nuanced and influential one.
His solution? Clarity of language, clarity of strategy, clarity of purpose and, above all, clarity of self-knowledge. Understanding who you are, where you’re heading and what you want to achieve will help cut through the complexity and deliver your comms objectives.
When faced with a traumatic situation, staying focused on the basics can help you steer a steady course. Amanda Coleman, Head of Corporate Communications at Greater Manchester Police, inspired the audience with her moving account of the hours, days and weeks immediately after last year’s Manchester Arena terrorist attack.
Amid the confusion and pain, Amanda reminded us about the basic truths of any good communication. Establish the facts. Hit the right tone. Be accurate with your information. Keep things simple. Say it to staff first, then go public. Make sure your messages are consistent.
And don’t forget the all-important human touch. Be sensitive to the emotional needs of your audience, and those delivering the message too.
Some of the wounds from that evening may never heal, of course. But sharing what you’ve learned from the experience, and taking the time to reflect, remember and celebrate the successes in spite of the tragedy, is the responsibility of us all when faced with a similar situation.
That’s when reputation means more than gaining commercial advantage, professional pride or looking good. It says everything about how we respond to adversity, a test that ultimately defines who we are as communicators, and as people.
Search #IoICLive18 on Twitter for the highlights from this year’s conference.