What’s the best way to monitor and protect our organisation’s reputation? | PBA

The Xfactor Collective specialist member Julie Weldon offers some top tips on how to find out what people are saying about you, in our weekly Collective Insights column.

Let’s face it – people talk. And if you’re doing good work, you want them to be talking about you. But you also need to know if they are less than complimentary.

The relationships that you and your organisation have are key in managing and, just as importantly, monitoring your reputation. 

Your communications strategy must allow for the proactive cultivation of your relationships across your internal and external channels. When it comes to reputation, you get what you give.

“If you’re not actively listening to what people are saying, you can’t control the narrative or expect to have influence.”

Your employees are your greatest asset and should be the starting point for evaluating your reputation. 

Employees can be your cheerleaders and naysayers online and offline – and you have the power to influence what they’re saying about you. Communicating with them transparently and regularly keeps them engaged and can surface issues before they reach a crisis point.

So, how else can you influence what people are saying about you? And where they are saying it? 

Here are a few options, including some free tools:

This free service allows you to nominate specific search terms. Think laterally and search widely. If your organisation has an acronym, include it, add your CEO’s name, your chairperson, any staff or directors who are relatively high-profile, as well as product or service names that are unique to you and might be used in isolation. For example, Apple would have an alert for iPhone. Scan broadly, not just the media or social media – online forums like Whirlpool are still used, despite Reddit being a more popular worldwide option.

Search social media yourself

Search on the common platforms for the same terms as the Google Alert. You might pick up mentions in groups or other people’s pages. Even if the account might be private, you’ll know that you were mentioned and can look further.

Monitor your feedback channels

Ask for feedback, and make sure inquiries and feedback are monitored and that you respond. Check your phone messages regularly too. People will usually first try to tackle issues directly, resorting to more public channels if you aren’t responsive.

Don’t overlook other indicators that people aren’t happy

For example, if your events have always been oversubscribed but suddenly tickets aren’t selling, or members or subscribers aren’t renewing, it’s worth doing some digging. There may be an innocent explanation, but there may also be something bubbling away underneath.

Consider investing in a media/social media listening strategy

You can do this yourself, to some extent, using tools like HootSuite (who offer NFP rates) to create searches on key terms and monitor social conversations. There are DIY media monitoring services too, although they do come at a cost. 

A PR agency can do these things for you and will often have systems they subscribe to that enable you to gain more insights, but that will come at a cost.

In summary

Seek first to understand, then to be understood. 

If you want to take monitoring and protection of your reputation to the next level and can afford it, consider focus groups or surveys. This may all seem like a lot of work, but if you’re not actively listening to what people are saying, you can’t control the narrative or expect to have influence.

Finally, what if you do find people are saying something negative about you? 

As a general rule, we recommend that you proactively engage with and respond to the feedback. The less you say, the greater the vacuum for people to fill – your words matter. Maintaining your reputation relies on reaction, response and reassurance.

Five top tips

  1. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
  2. To control the narrative, you need to know what people are saying.
  3. If you’re not actively listening, you need to be.
  4. There are many tools available, from free options to paid services.
  5. If you find an issue, you must respond.


Extra help from THE X-CHANGE Video Library:

About the author: Julie Weldon is an experienced communications consultant and a foundation member of The Xfactor Collective social impact community.

Each week Pro Bono News and The Xfactor Collective present a Collective Insights column, answering common questions and challenges experienced by social changemakers. You are welcome to lodge questions for the column by emailing news@probonoaustralia.com.au

The Xfactor Collective is an Australian-first community where changemakers go for expert support and advice, including pre-vetted specialists across 100-plus areas of specialisation, specialist triage support services and a free video library.

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