When I was young, people would caution about with whom I chose to surround myself. They used warnings like “guilt by association” or “the company you keep.” This was to teach me about those who are quick to judge groups as a whole as opposed to the individuals may miss my good deeds and/or intentions. Additionally, they explained that while I wasn’t committing bad acts, my association with bad actors could show tacit if not full-on approval of the actions.
My response to these counsels was a decision to never be someone with whom others would worry about associating. I worked to maintain my integrity, my public persona and reputation, and be someone found to be trustworthy and accountable. Long before I knew anything about “personal branding” I realized I wanted people to see me in a favorable light as often as possible. There were opportunities that I could have taken advantage of if I was less concerned about this or was more willing to test the “lines,” but those were sacrifices I willingly made.
Now that I have immersed myself in the corporate/professional world of reputations and “brand management,” I see some obvious similarities. The outside opinion of a company or organization is of vital importance, especially in this connected day and age.
It is at this point that I advocate for a robust and invested communications and public relations effort as you work to manage your reputation and brand. I am not strictly speaking of public relations in the stereotypical sense of “handling” reputation issues or “spinning” to save face. A quality communications and outreach effort can help connect you with end-users, partners, investors and the community in general. These connections can be of great value and importance as you work on your revenue streams from product and/or service offerings.
As I’ve mentioned before, PR and communications can help open doors. They can help remove roadblocks. They can help educate and demonstrate commitment.
Another benefit came to me the other day. If your company/organization can prove its good standing and show the trust earned within the industry or public, potential partners will be attracted to you. You will be the one that others want to associate with. Rather than be wary of doing business with you, they will want to share your goodwill.
Cultivating a positive reputation is not easy, nor quick. It requires time, resources and investment. And you can spot a less than genuine effort from a mile away. But the benefits can be worth it. We are developing a society where socio-political-economic worlds are blending more and more. People do not see “faceless companies” anymore. I am not advocating activist behavior on the part of companies, but you should know that potential customers and partners are looking to know you beyond just the price of your product.
Quality communications, public relations, and outreach efforts can polish your reputation so that your partners, investors and customers will want to be associated with you. And they will be proud you are among the company they keep.