Reputation – more fickle than media coverage

Check out DummySpit which says everything that needs to be said about equating media coverage to reputation.  This has always driven me mad when PR Week reports its reputation survey ie who’s been written about this week. 

Such lists are as flawed as those ranking corporate leaders based on the opinions of other “leaders”.  That approach is little more than top of mind recall based largely on media coverage or biased biographies.

Reputation itself is much more interesting – as Tom says in citing Dozier, it is affected by direct experiences, and is a personal cognitive judgement subject to change on the basis of new experiences or information from a variety of sources. 

My local Mercedes dealer had a good reputation with me until the delivery driver left my car unlocked on my drive all afternoon – and my neighbour showed me where the guy had chipped the bumper on my car on the tow bar of her Volvo.  The dealership has taken action to put this right without argument, but it has put a chip in my assessment of their reputation.  It  means I now don’t trust them so much – and even more important I’m less likely to recommend them to my contacts. 

Little incident, big reputational repercussions.

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

4 thoughts on “Reputation – more fickle than media coverage”

  1. When I worked in the airline business the carrier I worked for was far from the best. They had recently started flying from the US to the UK and setting up the operation had been a struggle. Our inflight service and on time performance left a lot to be desired. One day I got a letter from a VERY disgruntled First Class passenger. It was clear that we had failed to live up to his expectations or our aspirations.

    I immediately sent flowers and a case of wine and an apology – the cost was negligible compared to the value of a First Class passenger who was potentially a repeat flyer. The guy was amazed, vowed to stick with us and over the course of the next few years flew several dozen times which was worth tens of thousands of pounds to us.

    Out of bad good can be rescued that’s sometimes better than we could have dreamed of. Heather if I’d been your Mercedes dealer I’d have sent flowers.

  2. I’m too cynical to be won over with flowers!! What they should have done was to leave me a message apologising – but apparently their delivery driver didn’t have pen and paper (so they told me) and no-one thought to leave a message on my answerphone. They didn’t call the minute the dealership opened the next day – but did know about the issue when I called saying “oh we were going to call you.” Do I believe they would have done or even if the driver would have reported it had my neighbour not seen the incident?

    They have apologised, offered to pick the car up (I declined and took it in myself), and have sent the damaged trim to be repaired. But…

    So what would have impressed me other than being more pro-active (or not damaging the car/leaving it open in the first place). I would have appreciated the delivery driver himself coming to apologise in the dealership – and the dealer principal could have come out and said sorry.

    They could have noticed that my car keyring is broken and just given me a nice shiny new silver one (promoting the SLK indeed). They could have offered me a loan of a newer SLK for the weekend (and possibly encouraged me to trade up).

    The problem has been dealt with, but I don’t feel loved and valued. Saying sorry with flowers certainly wouldn’t have hurt.

  3. I think it was the wine!

    In all seriousness I think the fact that he got a speedy response was a big help. I’m amazed if anyone takes a complaint even half seriously. I think my passenger felt loved and valued and that’s my fundamental point. It’s what businesses need to think about more than they do. Your Avis – we try harder post got me onto your site in the first place and I think it’s a maxim that corporate la-la land could not only take on board but actually deliver on.

    If we don’t run a better business, then we won’t have a better business to run…

  4. Absolutely – it isn’t rocket science to value customers. When I was at Toyota, we had research that showed customers who had a problem that was successfully resolved were much more satisfied than those who hadn’t experienced a problem at all.

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