Expert's Panel

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    What mechanisms can you recommend for changing a bad or poor image- with product, a company, a department internally?

  1. Simply determine why the bad image, be a company, product line or product exists. Then determine how you can go about fixing it. Does the market misunderstand the situation and you are getting a bum rap? Then you will need to refine your messages and find ways to communicate them better. Do you have a problem inside the company that needs to be fixed? You need to fix it and then "reposition" the situation with facts—go out to the people who experienced the problem and prove to them that you have come back with a superior product. This isn't rocket science. There is a reason for a poor image and no amount of paint is going to help it.
  2. The medium you use can also make a difference. I have a recent example—a client with a really good product but not a lot of internal resources that would make a large company comfortable. There were only 15 people in the company and they did a lot of things ad hoc. They were in a good position with a customer, a large equipment company, that came out to do an audit and gave them a D--. All the activities that the MBAs run in the large customer's environment came out very bad here. I listened to the problem and talked to quite a few people and then put a presentation together as to exactly what they do. I put it in Powerpoint and showed up in a suit. It made a big difference. The medium can be important. If the customer's judgement is not based in reality, produce some information that points that out, present it credibly, and do so often.
  3. There was a CMP Equipment company that had a product in the field that failed miserably. They spent a lot of money trying to fix it. Finally, they came to the conclusion to scrap it and introduce the next model. That may seem rather simplistic, but the reality is that a very bad reputation will be very difficult to turn around. Acknowledge the problem, put it to rest and get on by introducing the next model.
  4. If the company with a bad reputation is just like the human body—it starts with the head that controls everything else. Replace the head and hire a good PR firm. If you are lower in the organization and can't change such a situation, fire your company—go somewhere else.
  5. How often do you drive down the road and see a sign on a business that says "Under New Management." What does that mean? It means they had a collection of services or products that weren't good and they are repositioning themselves by starting at the top.
  6. For internal problems, I had a wonderful saying: "Problems identified, solutions required." We turned it into a problem solving form or document that became an institution. It caught people's attention and got them to think about stopping the complaints and focus on fixing the problem.