Reputation Management

How to make sure your event sends out the right vibes and what to do if it doesn’t, with top tips from Event Insurance Services

It is inevitable, not everyone is going to like your event, not every customer interaction with your event is going to be 100% positive, and dissatisfied customers are much more likely to talk about your event than the satisfied ones.

There’s no getting around that, but what can really make a difference to how everyone else views your event is your approach to reputation management.

So, how do your clients and customers decide whether to go to your event or not? They look for reviews, they ask a friend and they may even request recommendations on Facebook. What they are looking for is an event or organiser with a good reputation.

Some statistics
74% of consumers have greater trust in a company if they read overwhelmingly positive reviews
Businesses lose 70% of customers when four negative reviews are found online
Businesses with mostly 1-star or 2-star reviews fail to convert around 90% of prospective customers
86% of people would pay more for services from a company with higher ratings and reviews.

Reputation management is anything that you do to shape public perception about your brand or business. From responding to online negative reviews to sponsoring and partaking in charity events, reputation management shows that you are making a conscious effort to better yourself and your business, therefore improving your reputation to the public. Some things to consider:

> Loss of trust
When an organisation fails to follow through on promises, its customers, employees and partners are more likely to question its reliability in the future. Regaining trust can be time consuming and difficult at times. Mistrust expressed by word of mouth on the internet can take years to repair and can often only be resolved by the number of supporters eventually outnumbering the critics.

> Damaged brand association
Brand association refers to the deeply embedded attitudes and feelings a customer has towards a company. When the association promotes a negative attitude, the customer is more likely to associate the company with negative connotations.

> Competition
You can almost be certain that your competitors are waiting to seize the opportunity to poach your client base. Therefore, maintaining a good reputation will ensure you don’t lose out to the competition.

> Act before it’s too late
The cost of repairing a damaged reputation and hiring reputation management specialists far outweighs the cost of maintaining your reputation in advance. Be sure to resolve any disputes instantly and behave in a professional manner at all times.

Reputation management and the law
Your customers and clients legally have the freedom of speech to complain about your company, and they will use that freedom if they feel they need to. As an event organiser it is important to understand how and when your clients and customers have crossed the line and are breaking the law in their efforts to destroy your reputation.

Customers cannot use insulting, abusive or threatening words or behaviour intending, or likely to cause, harassment, alarm, distress or cause a breach of the peace. They also cannot report false information.

There are reputation management lawyers who specialise in defamation, confidentiality and privacy laws. If you are ever in doubt about the legality of the person defaming you, your brand or your business, you have the opportunity to contact a reputation management lawyer.

A time to shine
One of the most crucial times to ensure you have a reputation management strategy in place is when a business or brand is hosting an event. They are in the public eye, with representatives interacting with people and can’t predict what might happen. With that being said, events are the ideal place to proactively build up a good reputation by displaying vision and values to a captive audience. In order to make the most of the opportunity, you should try to incorporate all of the following into your event:

Sponsorship or promotion of a relevant charity
Attractive branded materials in perfect condition (look the part)
Give the audience the opportunity to provide feedback (surveys etc.)
Keep your communication consistent with everything your brand stands for
Do all you can to help others achieve their goals at your event
Film the event so you can edit together the best bits to share online.

What could possibly go wrong?
Even when you cover all the bases and do your very best to secure your reputation, unexpected issues can always occur. It might not be that your event fails to attract any attendees, but it in fact attracts too many!

This was the case for the Brighton based ‘Cheesefest’ in 2017. In an unbelievable twist of fate, organisers failed to order enough cheese for the hungry cheese lovers in attendance. The backlash on social media hit Cheesefest with incredible force, with disappointed attendees venting their frustrations and poking fun at the festival organisers. When the newspapers and online publications picked up the story, they dubbed it ‘Cheddarmageddon’.

After the event Cheesefest released a statement admitting: “The demand for the cheese on offer wasn’t anticipated.” What did it all mean for Cheesefest in the end? A damaged reputation for sure!

Insure your reputation
The first rule of reputation management is that any issues you may have with your customers, clients or the general public need to be resolved in a timely and professional manner. The risk of your event being cancelled due to adverse weather conditions or entertainment failing to attend is something that should not be ignored. There is also the threat of someone at the event getting injured, or equipment getting damaged. Any of these scenarios can cause real damage to your reputation.

However, with the right insurance policy in place, you will have the financial help to quickly resolve any issues and compensate those who have been let down, disappointed or even injured. The responsible business owner should have a bespoke event insurance policy to protect themselves against not only unexpected financial disasters, but reputational destruction too. Consider specialist cover such as:

Public liability
Employer liability
Event equipment cover
Adverse weather extensions
Cancellation/abandonment
Non-appearance extensions.

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Four Steps to Follow

1. Dispute resolution
Sometimes, situations will occur where a customer becomes disgruntled and a dispute starts. This is something you should always be prepared for, as these disputes can snowball and get much worse for your event. Whether the customer is in the right or not, you should make every effort to resolve the dispute in a professional and timely matter.

What can you do about it?
Create a dispute resolution policy, outlining the process
Take the customer seriously and use the correct tone and language
Offer to compensate your disgruntled customer.

2. Staff training
Business owners who employ staff to represent their brand have a responsibility to ensure that those employees know what is expected of them in terms of professionalism, customer service and appropriate behaviour online. It only takes one rude employee, an inappropriate comment on Facebook or a video of an employee acting irresponsibly or unprofessionally to completely ruin your reputation.

What can you do about it?
Provide thorough customer service training
Include a social media policy in employee contracts
Restrict access to harmful websites on work computers.

3. Online reviews
Perhaps the most feared and misunderstood aspect of reputation management is the dreaded ‘online review’. While you can and do see many positive 5-star reviews, it’s the 1-star, negative ones that get the most attention and cause real damage to a business’s reputation. According to research conducted by ADWEEK7, 81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying, so if there’s negative information about your event online, they’re going to find it. Combine that with the fact that businesses lose 70% of customers when four negative reviews are found online (Moz1) and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

4. Public relations
Every business or event wants to create an image of themselves; whether that image portrays the courageous hero or the humble hard worker, but what strategies can be used to promote these images and therefore build the desired reputation? What if your event already has a reputation for being negative towards the environment or the local community? The answer? Public relations.

What can you do about it?
Be proactive in your approach to public relations
Decide on activities which best reflect the reputational issue you want to tackle
Sponsor charities, host charitable events, partner with ‘green’ companies.

Indoor bar
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Online reputational management
Imagine you’re looking for a kitchen fitter in your local area. You find a company with a website you like the look of, but you decide to click through to its Facebook page, only to find several 1-star reviews by infuriated customers, all complaining about a lack of customer service, professionalism and quality of work. It’s not likely you’re going to choose that company to fit your kitchen, is it?

With the real-time nature of social media, disgruntled customers can vent their feelings instantly in the reviews section of your Facebook or Google+ page, but their attack doesn’t have to stop there as they can post their opinions on their own page for all to see.

What can you do about it?
Use Google Alerts or Mention.com to monitor mentions of your event
Respond to all of your reviews, good and bad, to show proactivity
Do not get involved in any argument online, take the conversation offline
Set email notifications for all reviews so that you can reply instantly
Monitor and update your page – show the great work you do every day
Ask happy customers if they are willing to review you on social media
If you receive fake or abusive reviews, report them to Facebook
If negative Facebook reviews are a real problem, turn them off as a last resort.

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How to remove reviews from Facebook

1. Click Settings at the top of your Facebook Business Profile

2. Click Edit Page in the left-hand column

3. Click the Settings button next to Reviews

4. Click to turn reviews off

5. Click Save

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Review sites
Whether it’s Yelp, Trustpilot, TripAdvisor or Checkatrade, the reviews that go on these sites can hold a lot of weight, especially in search engines. If someone has left a scathing review about your event, a simple search for your brand name in Google can lead directly to that review, meaning the first thing people see regarding your event is a complaint. Every negative review you receive will also bring your star rating down, and we all want to have a 5-star rating, don’t we?

Forums
Forums are the places people gather online to ask for advice, have in depth discussions and, of course, recommend or complain about businesses. These online communities can become very influential, with forums such as Mumsnet having an unbelievably active audience. Again, these discussions can make their way onto page one of Google, which could hurt your event.

What can you do about it?
Respond to all of your reviews, good and bad, to show proactivity
Search Engine Optimisation can help to improve your event’s appearance in Google
Don’t get caught up in arguments online, take the conversation offline
Become an active member of relevant forums, building relationships with forum users
For fake or abusive reviews, request that they are removed
If your event is being aggressively targeted, hire a professional to undertake online investigations
Request that happy customers review you on these sites to bring your star rating up.

It’s time to start taking reputation management seriously, and to do so you need to cover all the bases: training your staff appropriately, putting together a policy for dispute resolution, taking a proactive approach to public relations and monitoring online reviews. Reputation management isn’t about hiding the negative press and incidents that occur, it’s about taking steps to ensure they don’t happen in the first place and that if they do, ensuring your business is being proactive in resolving them.

Some statistics
Star rating is the number 1 factor used by consumers to judge a business
41% of companies that experiences a negative reputation event reported loss of brand value and revenue
94% of consumers would use a business with a 4-star rating
Over 25% of a company’s value is directly attributable to its reputation
40% of consumers form an opinion by reading just one to three reviews.

Children wellington boots

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References:

1 https://moz.com

2 https://blog.reputationx.com/online-reputation-management-statistics

3 https://blog.reputationx.com/online-reputation-management-statistics

4 Dimensional Research, 2016

5 https://storage.googleapis.com/wordpress-www-vendasta/2016/08/50-Stats-You-Need-to-Know-About-Online-Reviews-white-label.jpg

6 https://storage.googleapis.com/wordpress-www-vendasta/50-Shocking-Stats-About-Online-Reputation-Management-infographic-1.jpg

7 http://www.adweek.com/digital/81-shoppers-conduct-online-research-making-purchase-infographic

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