Back in the game
The CEO of Adidas, Herbert Hainer, tells us how businesses can once again capture the public’s trust.
February 20, 2011 4:07 by Samuel Potter
Following the group’s acquisition of Reebok in 2006, we recognized the importance and immense challenge of pulling our brands together on to one common platform. We invested heavily in communication and collaboration, including the creation of a cutting-edge intranet based on wikis and blogs to showcase our brands. We held global employee meetings and local town halls, and we have one of the most open forums worldwide, where every employee can ask any question, even anonymously, to senior management – myself included. We developed newsletters, employee magazines and idea forums. We embraced social media. In short, we made communication central to our business and strategy for growth. This high degree of transparency was key to building trust among employees, who then took our message back into their communities.
In today’s technology-driven world, it is no longer enough to simply speak “to” your customers. Instead, you must “engage” with them in a two-way conversation, using social media outlets such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. These offer consumers a venue to provide feedback, both positive and negative, on your products, campaigns, customer service, corporate initiatives, and anything else they desire. It is also a way for customers to actively participate with your brands to raise awareness and visibility.
Social media provides organizations with an opportunity to speak to their consumers in an arena in which they feel comfortable. When companies listen to their consumers and respond to posts or tweets, consumers feel that their voices are heard, their concerns addressed, and their desires met, sentiments that ultimately help build confidence and trust in a company.
Transparency is the ultimate key to regaining trust. Given the increased volatility of markets and real-time news reporting, governments have implemented stricter guidelines regarding disclosure and stakeholders are demanding greater transparency and accountability. Companies should go beyond what is required by regulators and accountants; this can include more detailed financial presentations, hosting Investor Day meetings or, simply, making materials easily accessible online. A corporate website that is relevant, organized and continually updated is now a necessity.