Well, your reputation will have done quite a lot for you if it’s a good one; you build your business on the back of it and earn the trust of the people you deal with.
But what happens when it goes wrong? There are many examples of people who’ve spent years building up their personal or business reputation to be brought down by one simple phrase, said on the spur of the moment, in the heat of a crisis, or among ‘friends’.
In April 1991 the hugely successful jewellery store owner, Gerald Ratner, stood up and made a speech at the Institute of Directors during which he ridiculed his own products, and by association the people who bought them, pronouncing they were ‘total crap’. His comments did the 1990’s version of going viral and the company was nearly bankrupted.
Tony Hayward is another example of how one comment can destroy a reputation. Shortly after the BP Deepwater Horizon accident in Mexico, which left 11 people dead and a glut of crude oil floating around South coast of the USA, the BP chief told journalists: “I’d like my life back”. He was escorted out of the BP boardroom pretty sharpish, with his advisers cringing in the background wondering how on earth an intelligent, briefed man could possibly think it was OK to talk about himself when his colleagues had lost their lives, through what was later proved as BP’s negligence.
These cases are extreme and part of the curriculum for anyone studying Public Relations – as an example of how not to do it. But such a fall from grace could happen to any of us.
Professionals in all sectors, including dentists, are only as good as their reputation and if you handle a customer / patient complaint badly, take out the wrong tooth, or forget to chaperone a female patient who later makes allegations – either to you, or their friends, you could find you have destroyed everything you’ve spent decades working for.
It’s pretty important for a Practice to have access to someone who can advise in this sort of situation, see it from a different point of view and help you find the words that will resonate with the audience you’re seeking to communicate with. At a time of stress or crisis this could be challenging if you do not have something in place.
As well as guiding you through a crisis, professional Public Relations can help you increase your profile, and ultimately grow your patient base within your catchment area. By combining talking about dental issues and innovations in the local press, radio, magazines and parish publications and having compelling and interesting content on your website, you will stand out from the local crowd.
You might not become an instant Richard Branson, Anita Roddick or Deborah Meaden but you could easily become your local version of it.
If you would like to know more about how PR can help you grow your practice, please contact me directly.
But then again, what has your reputation ever done for you?