blogged the other day about how you can’t control what people say about you – especially in this digital age – but that you can and should influence it. So my attention was caught by another blog post this morning which, on the surface, presented the opposite view.

It starts from the same basic premise that the rise of digital media means less and less control. But while I argued that you need to strive more than ever to manage your reputation, it says you should embrace the lack of control with open arms.

In reality, I doubt the writer would disagree that you should do any of the things I highlighted to nurture a great reputation: produce goods or services of value, behave and communicate well, deliver outstanding customer support and respond well to problems.

His real point is that you should expect much less control these days – and even welcome public criticism alongside positive opinion. Having some negative opinion in the mix, he claims, makes organisations more credible and trusted.

There’s actually a lot of sense in this – even if it goes against the grain for marketing traditionalists who still believe they should be able to micro-manage the message. There are particularly big advantages in responding to criticisms of which you’d otherwise be unaware. And if you’re distinctive, innovative and take calculated risks, some negative reactions are unavoidable: you can’t please all of the people all of the time without being terminally bland.

I’m still sticking firmly with my view that you should work as hard as possible to manage your reputation and positively influence what people say about you. But I agree this needs to be balanced with a big shift in expectations – and a healthy degree of letting go.

 

What do you think – is negative opinion always damaging or can it be beneficial? When should you embrace criticism and when do you need to treat it as a problem?