Although many may think solely of individuals when thinking of reputation management, it’s just as important for corporations to build a “fan base” as it is for a professional athlete or well-known public figure.

Both corporates and personalities seek strategic counsel and guidance from PR professionals to nurture their brand with a specific target audience. Back in the early 1980s, John McEnroe, the bad boy of tennis nicknamed “Superbrat” may have benefitted greatly if he’d had a PR pro advising him on how to best harness the publicity (and counter the negative press) surrounding his antics during matches.

While McEnroe ruled supreme on court, his attitude, temper tantrums and foul mouth meant he received few endorsement opportunities (and those he did receive played on his bad boy image). The president of one Madison Avenue ad agency commented: “When I see McEnroe, I see ‘bad sport.’ I wouldn’t want him identified with my product.” It wasn’t until McEnroe cleaned up his act, long after he swapped his racquets for the commentator’s microphone, that he finally landed several multimillion dollar endorsements.

In today’s media-driven environment, working with a PR firm can be essential to maintaining a positive brand reputation. Take companies like Nike and Adidas, for whom branding, image and public perception are crucial. They rely hugely on celebrity athlete endorsements to keep their brands fresh and relevant. But in order for them to extend endorsement offers to potential ‘champions’ such as elite athletes, the athletes themselves must maintain a positive image.

Serena Williams and Roger Federer are great examples of effective brand ambassadors as the public perceives them to be inspirational, positive, and winners that are well-loved by people of all ages. According to Forbes, Roger Federer has the most impressive endorsement portfolio and is widely perceived as the greatest tennis player ever for his actions on and off the court.

In summary, effective reputation management is tremendously important in maintaining brand loyalty and a positive public perception. Whether you are a corporation looking to enhance your brand using a brand champion, or a professional athlete representing a brand, try to remember these basic tips:

  • Make your brand personal. Learn to connect with your target audiences personally. This will help you form a strong bond, as well as build trust and loyalty with your constituents.
  • Get good press. This includes (but isn’t limited to) providing regular comment and thought leadership on topical issues, excelling at what you do, and supporting industry and community initiatives, while avoiding compromising situations and controversial topics.
  • Create blogs. Having a blog is a great way to provide information regarding your brand and help position it as a valuable contributor within your particular field of interest. Keeping this content fresh by updating regularly is also critical to ensure brand consistency.
  • Always be professional. The most important thing you can do to maintain positive brand image is to always be professional – in the way you work, respond to negative statements, and in the tactics you use to promote the brand.

Ultimately, reputation management comes down to delivering on your brand promise in a consistent, compelling and unique way – whether you are a firm or an individual in the public eye.

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