May 2017 Motivate

Someone Is Always Watching


Written By: Philip N. Kabler

Remember the warnings in school about behaving properly because the consequences of your actions could end up on your permanent record? Well, they can. And they do.

In the current online day and age, what one does, says and writes is saved and accessible either on a hard drive, on a server or in the cloud where it will exist forever. And can end up exposed to the public or as ESI (electronically stored information), which can be used in court proceedings. This exposure risk can transpire through keystroke monitoring, URL clicking, the small webcam on a laptop, smart TVs or even smart phones. All of which create risks for individuals, businesses and other institutions.

Those risks can be the by-products of unintended exposures. Marketing and branding, however, are intentional activities, so the exposures to risk are heightened.

The simplest risk is the possibility of losing reputation, market share, and brand value by inaccurately representing the benefits, performance, and quality of a product or service. Certainly, personal and business consumers tolerate a degree of puffery in advertising and in pitch presentations and even bake-in a degree of discount to them. Caveat emptor, Let the buyer beware. But, failed expectations are difficult to shake off, and trust is even harder to rebuild. As a consequence, marketing and branding must be backstopped with proactive quality assurance and a continuous improvement mindset to output delivery.

The next, harsher level of risks from intentional business communications. Such as…risks of violating express or implied warranties, by failing to honor one’s quality proposition. Risks of misrepresentation or fraud, by knowingly misrepresenting an important fact with a negative intent. Risks of defamation, by intentionally publishing a falsehood that damages someone else’s business or personal reputation. Risks of privacy violations, by having one’s data, information, or proprietary and personal information opened to the entire world. Risks of unfair competition, by knowingly interfering with another’s contract or business relationships. Risks of being accused of fraud or misrepresentation.

How, then, can a company work toward building and defending its private and public reputation and in other words, manage its communications risks? By consciously engaging in outcomes such as the following when engaging in overall business communications:

  • • Building a merit-worthy reputation, by saying what the company is, and is not, going to do and then proceeding accordingly
  • Striving to be an honest broker of information, aka the go-to source
  • Proactively making itself available to be a source of reliable data about its goods and services, even during times of stress due to failures
  • Planning and practicing its communications activities. Certainly, crisis situations arise when least expected, but situations can be anticipated through the institutional learning curve, with counter-marketing strategies and tactics shelf-ready for implementation when needed
  • Checking facts and getting advance third-party permissions for endorsements. Nothing can detonate a business’s reputation faster than being perceived as untrustworthy.
  • Evaluating marketing and branding results, both quantitative and qualitative, and remaining flexible to change approaches in very short order

Communications, including marketing and branding activities as discussed throughout this issue, are central to the success of a business in getting its story out to the marketplace and then attracting consumers in for its available goods and services, whether in a bricks-and-mortar sense or virtually through an online presence.

Which brings us back to those childhood warnings in school about behaving properly because the consequences of your actions can end up on your permanent record. Well, they can and they do.

For more information, call Philip N. Kabler, Esq. of the Gainesville, FL office of Bogin, Munns & Munns, P.A. at 352-332-7688, www.boginmunns.com/gainesvillelawoffice, where he practices in the areas of real estate, business, banking and equine law. 

PHILIP N. KABLER is an Incubator Resource for the Santa Fe Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED), will be teaching a fall 2016 semester course in the UF Warrington College of Business Administration’s Master of Science in Real Estate program, has taught various courses
at the UF Levin College of Law and the UF Warrington College of Business Administration (undergraduate and graduate), and was a member of the Gainesville Area Innovation Network’s board of trustees. He is also the current president of the North Florida Association of Real Estate Attorneys.

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