Business leaders have gained insights into brand reputation management


By Marie Carter


Business leaders have gained insights into brand reputation management from a leading speaker from the care industry and experts in the legal, public relations and web marketing sectors. Entrepreneurial law firm, Square One Law, hosted ‘BrandAid’, which took place at the Brewin Dolphin offices in Newcastle. The event saw crisis management specialists come together to give an insight into how to deal with difficult situations effectively.


Tony Stein, founder of Healthcare Management Solutions (HCMS) and Akari Care,  was the guest speaker at the event. He was joined by Jean-Pierre van Zyl and Robin Winskell, Partners at Square One Law, Graham Robb from Recognition PR and Steven Parker from Mediaworks.  


Mr Stein, who bought out more than 40 care homes from the failed Southern Cross, explained how he turned a damaged brand into a successful business in the care home industry.  He launched the new Akari Care brand and embarked on a multi-million investment programme in its 39 homes throughout the UK. Many of the care homes have recently undergone a major re-decoration and refurbishment to improve the surroundings for the residents.


Tony Stein said: “It was clear when we took over the failed Southern Cross homes that there was a lot of work to be done. With the incredible support of the company’s bank, some £15m was secured to carry out the necessary work and, since then, a huge amount of effort has been put in to the refurbishment programme. It’s wonderful to see the difference that this has made to residents and staff where the refurbishments have been completed.”


Representatives from Newcastle based Square One Law talked about vital damage limitation and avoidance measures, including all legal aspects, while Graham Robb gave advice on how to minimise any immediate damage, with Steven Parker providing tips on how to repair and protect brand management online.  


Jean-Pierre van Zyl, Head of Employment at Square One Law together with fellow Partner Robin Winskell cited various cases which highlight the myriad complications of protecting brand reputations online.

Prior to the advent of social media, the Ratner jewellery case was highlighted as an example of where solid brand reputations can be ruined overnight. In these days where information can be transmitted to a global audience in milliseconds rather than hours, effective media monitoring is now crucial.


However, companies can be hyper-sensitive in some cases, such as in Craig Taylor v Somerfield Stores (July 2007), where an employee was dismissed for bringing the company into disrepute by posting a clip on YouTube showing a person in Somerfield uniform being hit with a plastic bag. The case was dismissed as the tribunal felt that the video was unlikely to harm the company’s reputation. This was largely because of the fact that in the three days the clip was available for viewing, only eight people had seen it, three of whom were from management. This did not show reputational damage and the dismissal was deemed unfair and disproportionate.

Stephen Parker highlighted some of the ways in which Online Reputation Management (ORM) could be conducted. He said that many consumers are now so web and social media ‘savvy’ that companies need to monitor their presence online as a matter of course. There are however many web applications - some of which are free such as Klout - to help with this exercise.


Graham Robb, an experienced crisis PR expert, presented numerous case studies to show why monitoring both traditional and online media is vital. Mr Robb presented insights into how a story enters the public arena via the police and how a story grows as well as advice on how to react when the media calls.



PHOTO CAPTION: From Left to Right: Jean-Pierre van Zyl, Stephen Parker, Graham Robb, Robin Winskell, Tony Stein

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