“Words are not enough,” warned Hilary Clinton at a press conference today. She spoke regarding Iran meeting its international obligations for its nuclear programme but her comment is equally valid for any organisation concerning reputation.

In the old business world, both business and individuals did get away with saying one thing and doing another. Not now. Reputations can be created or destroyed at the speed of light.

Defining reputation
“The result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you,” is the CIPR’s (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) pretty accurate description.

It’s professional, Warren Buffet, that man that outran the Dow Jones for over 40 years, Bill Gates’ ‘chessmate’ and the world’s greatest philanthropist says, “reputation takes years to build and can be wiped out overnight.”

So reputation is worth having and protecting – both personally and professionally. The knack is seeing ‘ourselves as others see us’ (the great Robert Burns). Well, thanks to modern technology, you can get an idea of how others see you to such an extent you can measure it.

The measures you use need to be tailored to the individual – person or organisation. Think of them as dials on an aircraft’s flightdeck. You can weigh the criteria – ie make some dials bigger than others.

You can measure quantities such as:

• Customer satisfaction/loyalty/spend/number of transactions
• Share of voice – press column inches, broadcast mins, website analytics
• Performance against industry benchmarks
• Team turnover
• Credit rating
• Share price
• Search engine optimisation
• Followers on Twitter• ‘Friends’ on Facebook • Balance sheet – eg years ago Heinz decided to add its brands to its balance sheet – in numbers – to reflect the investment in through the decades.

You can measure qualities such as:
• How customers value you
• Mystery shopper experiences
• Returns/quality indices
• Calibre of contacts on Linked In
• Your authority – blogging and other third party references/allegiances
• Team morale
• Resilience during troubled times

Why measure reputation?
Once you know where you are, you can test and measure ways to better build or protect it – ie you’ll see the dials move.

We’ve a few tried and tested, magic bullets to build reputation but the most powerful one is getting everyone facing in the same direction.

As Bill Gates said, “if I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on PR.”