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Reputations, Like Careers, Have to be Managed
What if there was something that could drive superior job candidates to your door instead of having to search them out? There is.

It’s called your reputation and it’s the best way to attract the people you need, even before you need them.

A positive reputation is built on delivering on your promises as a business entity. Have you promised your customers they’ll get their products in 48 hours? Have you promised your stockholders straightforward statements of your earnings? Have you promised the media that you’ll do your best to respond to their questions? Have you promised your employees that you will fully support them in the quest to make your products better? Then deliver.

And when you deliver, it’s time to let your reputation shine.

Reputations, like careers, have to be managed. Yes, they travel by word of mouth, but engineering that word-of-mouth is critical. I had a professor in communication school who used to thunder at us, “Whose reputation is it anyway?” Whose reputation indeed? Either you manage that reputation or someone else will do it for you and you may not like the outcome.

A few years ago, a very smart new client of mine told me that the reason they were engaging a PR firm was to help them recruit the cream of the crop among recent graduates. “We want to hire these grads but our competitors usually snatch them up before we get the chance to interview them,” he complained. “I know part of the problem is that our reputation is that we’re formal and stodgy and they simply don’t want to work at a place like that. That’s how things used to be around here, but it’s not true anymore. Unfortunately, those old perceptions seem to stick with us.”

A solid, well-planned and consistent presence in the media positions any company as a successful and dynamic place to work.

We went to work reshapeing that misguided reputation with a series of feature stories aimed at humanizing the institution. For example, the company had several highly placed executives who worked parttime because of their childcare responsibilities. A feature story was crafted on the program, which generated coverage in the local paper and their local trade press. Also, the firm aggressively went out to the media, offering its people as guest commentators on hot news, which positioned the organization as being less remote and on top of the latest developments.

And, when a large percentage of its promotions went to women, steps were taken to ensure there was a story about that in their trade press.

A solid, well-planned and consistent presence in the media positions any company as a successful and dynamic place to work. That presence comes from a combination of reactive and proactive stories that reach out to the press, along with responsive relations with the press.

Reactive stories come from a company’s daily successes, like gaining new customers, hiring new people or adding new product lines. Proactive stories come from the expertise of those in the organization. Examples of this include simplifying the impact of a new law, explaining the influence of a trend or offering tips that people might been seen as the ‘secrets’ of your industry.

Your relationship with the press comes from a combination of offering real news stories (not fluff ) and responding to their needs in a timely manner.

When all that comes together, you build the kind of reputation that positions your company in a positive light – for customers, prospects, competitors and current and future employees.

A consistent public relations strategy raises your visibility in your community, your industry and the marketplace. This kind of ongoing public relations effort makes people want to work for you because you look like a winner.

Now, who wouldn’t want to work for a company like that?

Andrea Obston is the president of Andrea Obston Marketing Communications, LLC, a Bloomfield, Conn.-based public relations and crisis management firm. It also provides media training, as well as public relations seminars and individual consultations; (860) 243-1447.

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