07 12 2018 Insights Media Law

Reputation Management – A Corporate Survival Guide


11 December, 2018

It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently” ― Warren Buffett.

For a business, a good reputation is everything, a valuable intangible asset that cannot be underestimated. In today’s increasingly connected and content-driven world, reputations can be tarnished instantly and result in significant loss of business, revenue and goodwill. It has never been more important to take a proactive approach to reputation management.

Here are 8 steps for managing and protecting corporate reputation.

1. Acknowledge the new playing field

The corporate communications landscape is virtually unrecognisable to its counterpart fifteen years ago. We live in a world where value is assigned in real time by “likes and shares” and where online intermediaries like social media platforms are for the most part exempt from liability for the content they host. Businesses are understandably feeling like they are operating in an unregulated virtual wild west.

Litigation is not only being reported in traditional media, but also on social media where the merits of cases and those involved are openly and often aggressively discussed. This has now become a legal issue as well as a social and ethical one, with the Irish courts recently implementing a practice direction to limit the use of social media in courts to “bona fide journalists” and lawyers.[1]

It can be extremely challenging for organisations to protect their reputation online. Since 2017 however, the Irish courts have seen a significant increase in defamation claims with a dramatic spike in the claims reported in the Circuit Court. Social media is possibly the most obvious contributing factor, as well as the increase in the monetary jurisdiction for Circuit Court cases from €38,000 to €75,000. Claimants are also becoming more aware that Irish Courts are prepared to award significant damages for defamatory material published online.[2]

2. Know your threats

In order to manage threats to corporate reputation, the first step is to identify the industry specific threats that bear the highest risk for your organisation. Threats can be both internal and external, and should be documented according to the level of risk they represent.

Examples of threats include:

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