Building a Favourable Image for Your Company

Considering the citizens’ high levels of knowledge on various socio-cultural, economic, political, legal and technological issues, it is necessary for each type of a leader in any organisation to learn how to build a favourable image of oneself and that of an organisation if the concerned organisation is to continue attracting support and sustain its operations.

Like branding a product, effective image building comprises many big and small factors and because an organisation has many stakeholders with different and sometimes conflicting needs, effective image building can be complex and cumbersome.

However, even if one doesn’t make an effort to build a favourable image, one is still building an image in the eyes of the public. This image can be negative or positive.

But effective and favourable image building is a continuous process and therefore can be a cumbersome and costly venture.

It is this complexity and tasking nature of effective image building that most chief executive officers (CEOs) and other top management officials always put strategies for effective image building in abeyance for a long time thereby attracting negative response or hostility from stakeholders.

But effective image building isn’t as cumbersome and costly as it is perceived to be. What makes effective image building cumbersome and costly is self-deception perception that all stakeholders support an organisation when in real sense some, if not all, have found alternative solace or sources of supply or need satisfaction.

This means that effective image building demands regular public opinion survey or research to be always up-to-date with your image status in the eyes of your stakeholders.

Image building is part of PR. And Public Relations (PR)’s image can be negative or positive. But the purpose of professional PR is to establish sustained mutual understanding and goodwill between an organisation and its stakeholders. It is goodwill from stakeholders that is the main goal for effective image building.

As it was stated before in one of articles under this column, an organisation should have a list of primary and secondary stakeholders with their respective needs and expectations from each group of stakeholders of a respective organisation.

Addressing such needs and or effective two-way communication process on why some needs are not being addressing are or is key in effective image building. Each group of stakeholders wants to know why their respective needs and or expectations aren’t being addressed accordingly. Explain to them why things aren’t the way they were supposed to be. Where you are failing to meet stakeholders’ needs and expectations, admit that things are not fine with an organisation due to limited resources. Show humbleness when an organisation isn’t able to meet stakeholders’ needs and expectations. Avoid showing stubbornness to stakeholders’ needs or expectations.

Such an effort will facilitate each leader and the respective organisation to be put in high esteem in the eyes of various stakeholders locally and abroad.

The purpose of this article is to remind our esteemed readers that image building is not an event that can be done over a short period of time like a week, few month or a year.

Effective image building is a continuous process where an organisation embraces old and new stakeholders and tries to address stakeholdrs’ needs and expectations through effective two-way communication process at all times.

Favourable image building starts with setting objectives and a goal in what you want to be known for. It also requires unity of purpose in achieving such a image objectives and a goal. What do we want people to know us for?

In short, effective image building is achieved through strategic objectives, plans and well co-ordinated implementation of such plans. An organisation cannot achieve a favourable image only through tactics.

In effective image building, both small and big positive or negative issues that an organisation or one or some of its workers or members does or do at any time against stakeholders matter a lot. Even small immoral and criminal activities at any time of your personal or organisation’s life contribute to image building process.

One cannot say because I steal small things or I stole only once, people will still regard me as an honest person.

Unless one is in a society full of people with high immorality and high criminal activities, a favourable image is a product of high morals, honesty, hard work, sacrifice and a tireless effort to serve public interest.

It gives an impression that some people were employed to record whatever an organisation, its CEO and top management officials are doing for and against stakeholders for current and future references.

For one to build a good image of oneself or that of an organisation, one should always assume that each family members, local community member, each organisation or the whole country has a file for you or for your organisation where everything you do at any time be it personal or official is recorded for reference of your personality or that of your organisation at any time.

Therefore, effective image building demands personal and organisational sacrifice. The process can be a long complex and tiring process especially if one has had a negative image before.

The only medicine in effective image building is when an organisation starts it from the word ‘go’ and continues doing so with all stakeholders.

On and off effective image building efforts put personality of a CEO or an organisation in doubt in the eyes of stakeholders.

Remember that as you might be pleasing others, some stakeholders can be disaantaged or hurt. Resources for addressing each group of stakeholder might dry up.

Therefore, effective image building demands strategic planning at all times or else one might tumble into various issues and some issues might transform into crises with some, if not all stakeholders.

A good case study about image building efforts can be that of the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) just before the 2011 tripartite elections.

MMD through its presidential candidate, Rupiah Banda hired image builders for MMD and its presidential candidate, Rupiah Bwezani Banda (RB) to win the 2011 tripartite elections just about three months before the 2011 tripartite elections.

MMD and RB conducted an aggressive and costly political campaign to win the stated elections. Despite such an aggressive and costly political campaign against other political parties and their leaders who might not had such a huge budget and government machinery like that of MMD and RB, the opposition party, Patriotic Front (PF) won the stated elections.

MMD had started well as a political party. But what some MMD leaders were doing against public interest made it lose in the 2011 elections. This emphasizes the importance of unity of purpose in effective image building process.

This case study proves that image building cannot be effective over a short period of time but that it is a long-term, complex and demanding process in line with public interest.

It also proves that when stakeholders are fed up with an organisation’s statements and actions against public interests, they can resort to even what they didn’t want to be associated with as their partners.

This is a political example. But this is also true to any public or private sector organisation such as civil society organisations (CSOs) including churches, clubs and associations.

But for you to build a favourable or a notorious image, you must have a model for that type of a person or organisation. For positive image, follow the footsteps of a person in any capacity who inspires you most in building a good reputation and do the same for a notorious image.

All statements you make, actions you do or decisions you make contribute to your image and that of your organisation.

This means that all the favourable statements, actions and decisions in the eyes of the public add up to your good image and that of your organisation. But this further means that all the negative statements, actions and decisions you make against public interest add up to your bad image.

So it depends on which side of your favourable or unfavourable statements, actions and decisions are greater than the other.

The one which is greater than the other is the image you have built for yourself or for your organisation in the eyes of the stakeholders.

In conclusion, building an effective image of yourself and that of your organisation, demands one to know the moral standards of the stakeholders to be in tandem with such at all times and not to be repugnant to the needs and expectations of the stakeholders.

To build a favourable image also demands one to love one’s neighbor as one loves oneself in line with Matthews 22:39. It also demands one or an organisation to do to others as one or as it wishes others to do for him or for her or for an organisation(Matthews 7:12).

Building a favourable image requires one to be careful with what one says, does and the decisions one makes that affect other members of the family, organisation or society.

In short, it appears God’s Ten Commandments according to the Holy Bible highly influence effective image building strategies at personal, family, organisational and societal levels.

The author is a PR Trainer and Consultant.

For comments and ideas, contact:

Cell: 09670977 450151

E-mail:sycoraxtndhlovu@yahoo.co.uk

Source : The Times of Zambia

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