“A question we are always being asked is, ‘What can you do to stop a reputation from sliding?’” says Andrew Jordan, Chairman of Reputica, the reputation management company he founded in June 2007.
It sounds like the million-dollar question, but Reputica has set about addressing it through developing its own innovative technology.
“A lot of cases where real damage has been caused to a reputation is because publicity has grown around an event without any interception.
"Just look at the incident concerning Kryptonite bike locks. In September 2005, somebody posted a blog with a video attached of them picking one of their locks with a Bic biro.
"Not surprisingly, members of the public started trying it for themselves. Within ten days, there had been more than 100,000 downstream blog postings about it, which led to a $10m product recall.”
As it turned out, the fault only lay with a limited product batch. “Now, if the company had gone back to the blog posting within an hour or even a day and responded to it by saying, ‘Yes, we acknowledge that there is a fault with this limited product batch, if you’ve got these code numbers on your locks then we’ll provide you with a free, new lock’ then chances are they would have killed it or at least slowed down the spread of it.
"As it was, they only found out about it on day three. Even then, the chief exec said, ‘Oh, blogs – who cares?’. By day ten, it was on the front page of The Wall Street Journal. That’s the power that these things can have.”
Jordan’s philosophy is that half the challenge of managing reputation is in being pre-emptive, and this is where his company’s technology can help. Reputica has developed a subscription-based monitoring service, which tracks data relating to the reputation profile of a company or individual. Once identified, each piece of information is objectively scored based upon its reputational impact and combined into an overall reputational score – the first of its kind.
Being able to measure a reputation in this way is a unique selling point of the company, as is the sheer breadth of data they monitor, which includes the web, offline advertising, tv, financial, legal and criminal data sources, IP registrations, employee activity and news sources on a 24/7 basis.
“Nielsen has got a service called Buzzmetrics, which is very good at tracking blogs. Other services monitor news clipping services. I like to compare Reputica to a Venn diagram – the rings of the intersecting Venn diagram are the other companies offering a little of what we do but the bit where all the rings join is where we are," says Jordan. No wonder he thinks his company is hitting a “sweet spot.”
Indeed, the only challenge Reputica faces right now is in “meeting the demands of the market,” says Jordan. “If someone wrote a cheque out to us today for £1m, we could have spent it tomorrow.”
With the company currently in talks to secure a £1m funding round, let’s hope someone addresses their million-dollar question soon.