Rebuilding Wall Street’s Reputation: 7 Key Factors to Focus On

With the national economy taking its time to recover and plenty of recent financial scandals, Wall Street’s reputation has tanked. If Wall Street, banks, and other financial institutions want to rebuild a solid reputation, they’ll need to focus on the 7 distinct perceptions consumers have about them. By addressing each of these areas, Wall Street bankers and stockbrokers can tackle the problem of a poor reputation from several angles.

The 7 key factors Wall Street must address to rebuild reputation are:

  • citizenship

  • financial performance

  • governance

  • innovation

  • leadership

  • products and services

  • workplace environment

Citizenship

Consumers expect companies they do business with and those who hold a lot of power to show good corporate citizenship and social responsibility. Citizenship in this sense is the idea that businesses like those on Wall Street must be actively compliant with the law, monitor and be accountable for their own actions, and have a positive impact on the environment, employees, customers, stakeholders, and the public at large.

Financial Performance

No one wants to buy from, work for, or invest in a company that isn’t financially stable and making a steady profit. Scandals, embezzlement, debt, gambling, poor investments, sour mergers or acquisitions, and other cash-flow problems all reflect a negative financial performance.

Governance

How a company is run can have a big impact on the company’s reputation. Consumers expect a company to be run efficiently, fairly, and responsibly, with strong values and appropriate policies.

Implementing a better system to punish employees involved in scandals and reward those who live up to the company’s values and mission would go a long way to rebuilding Wall Street’s reputation. So would making processes more efficient, policies more fair, and values and mission statements more in line with the other 6 factors.

Innovation

The most successful companies–which, coincidentally, usually have good reputations–evolve and adapt. They are not afraid to update old products and policies, create new ones to match the times, and otherwise innovate in any way they can to perform better and please stakeholders.

Wall Street has stagnated by doing the same things the same way for years. It’s time for them to get creative and change how they play the game to regain trust and rebuild a strong reputation.

Leadership

Thanks to the internet, consumers expect companies to have visible leaders who are experts in their industries and take a stand on important issues of the day. Wall Street executives should strive to be an influence for good and become thought leaders in smart investing, ethical banking and financial policies, and other relevant topics.

Products & Services

Businesses live or die by the strength and value of their offerings. Wall Street institutions must make sure their products and services actually help customers, solve problems, and are appropriately priced.

Workplace Environment

Although this factor mainly affects employees, it makes a difference in a business’s reputation. Consumers expect businesses they frequent to treat their employees well, and an employee’s assessment of the company is more powerful than a random customer.

Rebuilding Wall Street’s reputation will take a lot of work, but these 7 key factors provide the much-needed guidance to get them on the right track.

 

Pharmaceutical Reputation Management

The reputation of a pharmaceutical company is a precarious thing. Any negative press about your company or a new medicine can spread like wildfire online, so it’s important to make the most of all the positive content you do have.

Because bad news can spread so quickly online, reputation management for drug companies depends on maximizing all the positive content you can.

“Positive” content is anything you want to show up on the first page of a search, such as an announcement about a new medicine or promising trial results. Maximizing that content so that it is more likely to show up on the first page of a search is a two-step cycle you can repeat endlessly:

  1. Gather positive content (existing and new)
  2. Publicize it

Gathering Positive Content

First, gather all the positive content you already have about your drug company and about each drug you offer. Positive content could include but is not limited to:

  • testimonials
  • success stories
  • results of a survey or trial
  • case studies
  • feedback from partners and vendors
  • certifications and other marks of quality

Continually strive to get more positive content you can maximize for your online reputation management. Ask pharmacies and doctors for feedback and use lots of surveys and trials for research and data collection.

Publicizing Positive Content

Once you have all this positive content, the trick is to get it online in as many places as possible so it shows up in the first page of search results.

Start with a Testimonials page on your website.

On this page, publish the positive feedback you’ve received from customers, doctors, pharmacies, partner companies, and others. Any comments that show your company or specific drugs to be high quality and trustworthy belong on this page.

How to maximize your Testimonials page: Incorporate testimonials into your social media strategy with links to this page. Publish them in press releases, articles, and other online and offline materials.

Next, set up a Press, Media, or News page.

Anytime you have an announcement or press release, publish it here first. Then all other online press releases will link back to the original on your website as the source of the information.

How to maximize your News page: Anytime you have news, link the online press releases or social media announcements to the originals on your News page. If you have lots of news or announcements, you can create additional social media accounts dedicated just to getting the word out. Twitter is especially good for this.

Third, publish success stories often.

While testimonials demonstrate doctors’ confidence in your company, success stories illustrate how one of your drugs helped an individual struggling with a problem. They build your online reputation with the power of storytelling while appealing to a different segment of your target audience.

How to maximize success stories: Dedicate a page on your main website to these stories, only publishing short blurbs with a link to a different website completely devoted to success stories. That way the positive content takes two spots on a search engine results page. You can also create an additional social media account dedicated to sharing these stories.

There are plenty of other ways to maximize positive content for your drug company’s online reputation management, but these are the basics. Maintain good search rankings and press with these pharmaceutical online reputation management techniques.

Creative Brainstorming for Reputation Management in “Boring” Industries

Last month, we discussed the idea that doing reputation management for “boring” industries is harder than doing reputation management for industries like energy drinks, celebrities, or trampolines (trampolines are awesome!). But nothing could really be further from the truth. In reality, each industry will pose its own set of unique problems. And if you think you are doing reputation management for a boring company, perhaps the problem is not the company, but a lack of creativity on your part.

One of the best examples of thinking outside the box and making a boring product exciting comes from the great Don Draper of Mad Men. In the clip below, Kodak has just invented what they call “the wheel,” a circular slide projector that allows you to continuously flip through slides and not have to insert them one by one. The Kodak executives think marketing the product will be extremely hard because there’s nothing exciting about their new product. They think it’s a huge leap forward in terms of technology, but the science behind slide projectors is not exactly frontpage news.

Don throws science out the window and is able to capture the real essence of the product and what it will mean for everyday people. He didn’t start with any preconceived notions about what the product should be. Instead, he looked at what the product could be and what it could mean to people. In a nutshell, he was simply being creative.

Creativity is Not a Gift

Anyone can be creative—even doing reputation management for a boring product. Creativity is not a gift that one is simply born with. It is simply the exercise of looking at an everyday object or idea, asking questions about it, and looking at it from a different perspective. And anyone can learn to do it. In fact, here are some strategies that can help you look at a boring industry with a different perspective and do better reputation management as a result.

Define the Problem

Many times, if something isn’t succeeding, we either simply ignore the problem and plow ahead anyway, or we try the first solution that comes to us—we fall back on the strategies we’ve always used. As a result, sometimes we offer many solutions without actually solving any problems. The next time you’ve hit a wall with linkbuilding, linkbait ideas, or more, look to understand the problem first.

One way to do this is the “5 Whys” method. If you have a problem, ask why. Answer that question, then ask why again. And so on. Like this:

1)    I can’t get my client’s YouTube video to rank higher. Why?

2)    Because no one is watching it. Why?

3)    Because it’s boring to watch. Why?

4)    Because it’s just the CEO talking about the financial structure behind the product. Why is that boring?

5)    Because the company’s customers don’t care about the finances. Why not?

6)    Because the product is for stay-at-home moms, and business finance doesn’t relate to their everyday experience.

Once you understand what the problem is, you’ll begin to understand how to solve it.

Define the Audience

Post-Penguin and Panda, it’s getting harder and harder to rely on our old tricks as reputation management specialists. Now we actually have to get people to like, link to, or talk about our clients and their products in order to build a better reputation. But you can’t make people care about your boring company if you don’t know who you are talking to. Do some research; look at your customer data. Sometimes, simply knowing WHO you need to target will present a thousand different ideas for improving your reputation management strategy.

Think Offline

Why is it that we rarely have our best ideas while we are at work? We’re usually too busy working to be able to let our minds wander and find solutions on their own. If you’re stuck doing the same old strategies for the same boring industry, take a break. Walk away form your computer and think offline for a while. Sitting in a restaurant, watching people at the grocery store, putting together a model car, or doing a seemingly non-related task can help you make connections to the problem you’re dealing with.

Add Constraints

Too often, we don’t want to be constrained when we are brainstorming. We want all out options open so we can be more creative. But that’s not when we’re most creative. When we have all possibilities open, we get confused, don’t know which direction to head, get frustrated and give up. So, instead of saying, “Let’s brainstorm all the ways we can get site X to rank better,” give yourself a constraint, like:

  • What if we couldn’t use Google to get traffic to the site?
  • What if we could only get links from Facebook?
  • What if the site only had one page?
  • What if the site was only text (or only picture) based?
  • What if the site was targeted at dog owners?
  • What if we could only use HTML5?
  • Etc.

Instead of limiting your ideas, constraints can help you look at a project in a new way, and spur many great ideas.

When it all boils down, doing reputation management for a non-exciting industry or company is just a matter of stepping outside your normal paradigm and looking at the problem form a different perspective. And if you can do that, the ideas will come and you’ll make the boring job an exciting one.

Putting “Manage” Back into Reputation Management

Once there was a company that decided it was cheaper to hire cannibals as workers, so a manager brought in a group of cannibals, showed them how to do their jobs, told them that they would be treated just like anyone else in the company but asked that they avoid eating anyone.

A couple of weeks went by when the manager came to the cannibals and said, “You guys are doing a great job, we’ve really enjoyed having you here, but a secretary has gone missing—do you have any idea where she went?” The cannibals shook their heads, and the manager left.

Then the chief cannibal turned to the group and asked, “Alright, who ate the secretary?” One of the men fearfully raised his hand. The chief said, “Now they’re onto us! I’ve been eating managers for weeks, and then you had to go and eat someone important.”

All kidding aside, management is one of those words that smacks of bureaucracy and bean counting—not of accomplishment. But reputation management is about more than checking out the SERPs every once in awhile to see if your reputation is improving. Reputation management takes hard work, dedication, and leadership to accomplish its goals.

In fact, the word “manage” actually has four different meanings that can give us insight into exactly what we should be doing as reputation managers.

To Be In Charge Of

Firstly, “to manage” means to be in charge of something. And being in charge means taking responsibility for one’s actions. As managers of reputation strategies, we need to take responsibility for the reputations of the companies or brand names that we work on. That means going beyond simply making sure the SERPs look good. It means taking an interest and a leadership role when it comes to your company’s reputation and giving a direction and purpose to your efforts. Setting goals, following up, and focusing on the success of your reputation strategy are all part of managing reputation.

To Accomplish

If I manage to pull off a victory in the last seconds of the game with a half-court shot, I’ve accomplished a win for my team. Management isn’t just about making sure the strategy is moving according to plan, it’s about pulling off a victory for your company or brand. In order to accomplish your goals, you have to follow through with your promises and stick with the strategy until you can achieve SERPs that reflect positively on your company or brand.

To Cope

When a reputation crisis occurs, will you manage to turn the crisis around? To manage also means to deal with the situation that is presented to you in a way that does not betray defeat or weakness. Emergencies will arise; crises will occur; but if you have the tenacity and confidence to manage your reputation strategy with strength, you’ll come through the other side with an improved strategy and a better understanding of what it means to manage a reputation.

To Control

Lastly, to manage also means to control something. In reputation management, you need to be in control of your company or brand’s online reputation at all times. If you are vigilant, and constantly monitoring the web, you should be ready or any crisis that may arise. That’s what being in control is—having a knowledge of all possible dangers and planning for them in advance so you’re never caught off guard.

Manage Your Reputation

Although “management” can be a dirty word, it doesn’t have to be. If you can take charge of your strategy, follow it through to the end, and be prepared in advance for any threat, you’ll create a solid reputation management strategy that will protect your company or brand from attack. As for protecting yourself from the cannibals, that’s a different story.

Tips for Using PPC as a Reputation Management Strategy

Most people in the world are completely unaware of how search engines work and how it’s possible to use search algorithms to manipulate the results you see on the page. As a result, many SEOs and reputation management professionals are thought of as magicians who use dark sorcery to “trick” Google into doing their bidding. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, many people are flummoxed as to how Google makes any money. They don’t sell anything, right?

Well, those in the industry know that besides a handful of premium services, Google makes the vast majority of its money selling advertising. And you can use Google’s ad system to help your online reputation, just like you can use any other tactic to mold a results page that is optimal for the reputation of your company.

PPC (or pay-per-click) advertising are the ads that run at the top and sides of a Google search page. They don’t take up a spot in the results, but they do push the “natural” results lower on the page, taking up screen real estate. And many users can’t tell the difference between the paid and non-paid results on a serach—which is one of the reasons these ads work so well.

Google sells these ads on an auction basis. In other words, whoever is willing to pay the most for the ad space gets the best spot on the page. In terms of reputation management, it’s not likely that many other companies will be bidding for space on a search for your company name (however in some industries this is the case), so your PPC rates should be fairly small. Perhaps as little as a few cents per click.

If you feel that it might be worth it to buy ads on a search for your company name and take up some extra page real estate, here are a few tips you’ll need to keep in mind to save money on your campaign:

1) Use the ad scheduler to limit your ads to peak search hours

When you buy ads from Google, you have the opportunity to use the ad scheduler to specify the times of the day you want your ads to run. Running your ads 24 hours a day is a good way to catch everyone who searches for your company names, but it could cost you a lot of money. Instead, use your Google analytics tools to find out what days of the week and what times of the day are most ideal for capturing the maximum amount of people with your ad. Then schedule your ad to run during those times, saving you money and giving you the most benefit at the same time.

2) Use “standard” delivery method

On the other hand, if you are on a budget and can only devote a small amount of money to PPC, you may opt to limit placement of your ads to the amount you can pay each day. If this is the case, you’ll be offered two options when buying ads: standard delivery or accelerated delivery.

With standard, your ads will be evenly spaced out through the day. With accelerated delivery, your ad will run on every search possible until you run out of budget. In some cases this means that your ad will appear in searches for your company name only in the morning—leaving the afternoon wide open.

Although some PPC marketers advocate for accelerated delivery, with reputation management, you’ll want to opt for standard so you can save the most money and still get exposure throughout the day.

PPC and Reputation Management

Granted, PPC is not usually the first option for a reputation management strategy because searches for your specific company name are generally low-competition keywords. But if you’ve had trouble with certain results showing up near the top of a search, or if your competitors are buying ads for branded searches, then PPC is an option you might consider. And these basics will get you started down the right path to a stronger reputation management strategy.

3 Ways to Build Your Brand Through Reputation Management

Brand building is a term thrown around at a lot of marketing firms and internet startups. But when was the last time you actually heard someone define “brand building” in a real, tangible way? What does it really mean?

Let’s start with the meaning of “brand.” Your brand is the way that people relate to your products, services, and company as a whole. Essentially your brand is a set of images, stories, and emotions that people associate with your company. Thus, your customers define your brand through what they say, think, and feel about your company. And you can guide the public perception of your company through any number of avenues, like advertising, social media, word-of-mouth, charity work, and more: in other words—brand building. And when it comes down to it, reputation management should go hand in hand with brand building because they’re part of the same strategy to influence people’s perception of your company for the better.

In fact, they’re so closely related that when you are doing one, you should be doing the other at the same time. Take at a look at the ways that both brand building and reputation management share the same goals.

1. It’s about communication

Bad brand building is about campaigns. Good brand building is about fostering a relationship with your customers. And that goes the same for reputation management. The most successful brands build a simple and consistent image for themselves over many years; they don’t simply change every time a new fad comes along. The same is true for good reputation management. You have to stick with it and be consistent, or negative information and bad reviews will creep into your search results. But if you are consistent with your reputation management, you’ll be communicating a positive message to potential customers anytime they search for your band online.

2. Tell a story

Great bands have great stories. And I’m not just talking about a great founding story, but a story people feel every time they think about your brand. For example, when you think about Nike, you think about winning. Winning is a story. The same should go for your reputation management. When you optimize the search results for your company name, keep in mind that you can’t fill the page with all positive information about how great your company is. Instead, you have to build a story around your company by focusing on a variety of messages and platforms. Positive information, neutral information, press releases, news stories, videos, social media profiles, and more—when a potential customer searches your company online, they should see a variety of materials that tell each bit of your company story. When they see a variety of information and links, they’ll feel more confident about trusting you, and you’ll be getting your messaging to them and building your brand at the same time.

3. Stay consistent

Unsuccessful companies change their brand messaging every quarter. This confuses customers who don’t know what to think about the brand and its every-changing personality. On the other hand, successful companies stick with their brand image for a long time. Again, look at Nike. How long has their slogan been, “Just Do It”? Probably for as long as you can remember. That’s the kind of consistency you should be building with your reputation management strategy as well. Make sure that the positive and neutral information you are filling your search result page with are in-line with your company brand. When customers search for your company online, they should have the same experience they’ve had through your advertisements—even if they haven’t clicked through to your website yet.

Reputation management IS building your brand. When customers search your company name online, they will begin to form opinions about your brand according to what they see in the search results. Remember, it’s the perception that your customers have of you that defines your brand, not necessarily your marketing efforts. So get out ahead of the pack by creating a reputation management strategy that connects with your customers. Because if you don’t define your reputation, someone else will.