The time for business leaders to control their professional reputation was yesterday. All leaders within an organisation need to understand the impact that reputations can have on themselves, and the organisation they represent. Reputation issues regarding defamation will stay online for life and can be difficult to resolve and remove. Business leaders can avoid and prevent future conflicts by undertaking a few simple personal brand control measures.

When you type your name into google, what results appear first? Do you see yourself, or an individual that shares the same name as you? If so, this unsuspecting stranger could potentially harm your personal brand. This individual may have a particular career, hobby, interest or political opinion that could have a detrimental impact on your professional reputation. Your employer, client, or other stakeholders may accidently mistake you for your apparent online appearance and form an opinion of you based on the other ‘John Smith’.

Any individual can take control of their online brand by simply becoming more active online. Sign up for LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social medias and develop your profile to ensure when you google your name, anyone can clearly distinguish you from every other ‘John Smith’ on the internet.

In addition to how you are perceived online, business leaders must closely monitor individuals’ comments regarding them. Intentional defamation can adversely impact an individual’s reputation, particularly an individual in a leadership position, regardless if the defamation claim is true. As business leaders are essentially the face of a business, their actions are always scrutinised and reflect upon the organisation.

Potentially, word-of-mouth can be an organisations most effective marketing tool. Circulating a positive message to stakeholders helps enhance a business’s reputation. Customers take the word of previous customers very seriously as it is essentially a form of a business review. However, word-of-mouth also has the potential to have a detrimental effect on an organisation if the information shared is intended to harm its reputation.

Business leaders must become aware that when faced with a defamation case, there are actions they can take. Individuals affected can notify the defamer that their actions and words are harming their reputation and their organisations’ brand image. They have the right to ask the defamer to remove the offending comment or report the claim to social media administrators. If these attempts cannot rectify these issues, individuals and corporations are within their rights to seek legal aid.

Defamation can destroy stakeholder trust in an organisation and therefore any future and potential relationships that can ever be made. Don’t turn your back on your reputation.

Anna Charlton