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Avoid “Situations” by Taking an Active Role in Brand Management

As much as it may have been a publicity stunt , Abercrombie & Fitch’s recent entreaty to stop wearing their clothing aimed at Mike Sorrentino — aka “The Situation” — on the popular MTV TV series “Jersey Shore” speaks volumes about negative brand connotations.

The Situation, perhaps genuinely or as an act, is a reality TV star who embraces the negative stereotype the television show portrays, including possessing some well sculpted abs that have aided to his rise in fame (and normally a focal point Abercrombie & Fitch’s ad campaigns). However, he and his cast mates, while entertaining to some, are not the typical brand ambassadors.

While for most companies there is not such an overt association with a questionable character, very real brand and reputational management — ahem — situations exists. Simply put, your reputation and brand are far too critical to not actively monitor and manage.

All corporate communications need to be carefully vetted so as to stay on point and remain centered around both the company’s core values and current marketing goals. This has never been an easy task for a professional services entity, but today’s social media-saturated landscape has made it even more difficult.

Employees have blogs, Facebook accounts and smart phones that tweet. While obviously bearing in mind First Amendment protections, it is more critical that companies take an inventory of what content is being associated with their brand. You know that Facebook photo of your intern heavily drinking and the accompanying listing of your company as his employer or that rogue blog dishing workplace gossip? Yeah, those are situations.

Companies need to work hand-in-hand with their marketing and communications teams to inventory and strategize the company’s social media policies.  Companies work far too hard and are involved in matters far too sensitive to simply ignore these burgeoning juggernauts.

Increasingly, professional services companies signing up for social media. These accounts are additional platforms for company happenings and help establish an organization as vital and tech savvy – something perpetually desired by younger workers. As an added plus, establishing a presence on these channels is a none-too-subtle reminder to employees who actively use them to be mindful as to what they post.

– Michael Bond

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