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A reputation makeover; ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE Thought leader.

LAST month, on these very pages, we were talking about reputation management, and how much can be done through social media.

Whilst it's true that social media is a powerful tool for conveying brand messages and potentially changing opinion, sometimes a brand's identity is so ingrained that no amount of positive tweeting will sway the clued-up, digital and media savvy generations.

Sometimes you need to take more drastic action, and you need to know how to tell people not only exactly what it is you're doing, but also what it means for them and you.

One company which seems to have a grasp on its own reputation, and what is being said about them, is the payday loan giant (and sponsors of NUFC), Wonga.

The company is seemingly mistrusted by the public on a fundamental level, with no amount of football supporting or cuddly puppet adverts being able to distract from the fact that its interest rates, which can reach an eye-watering 5,853%, are frequently slammed by the media, industry peers, and outside organisations alike.

This month though, Wonga has made a very public show of unveiling its new chairman, Andy Haste, who is a veteran of two long-running and almost venerable city institutions, AXA SunLife and RSA Insurance.

Mr Haste, then, is being positioned as a man of calibre, of experience. A strong face for a company who've always appeared somewhat intangible, operating behind the faces of a puppet-led ad campaign that Haste has axed as one of his first moves in charge.

Putting a name and a human face front and centre is certainly a strong start, but Wonga has also recognised that it won't be enough to change most minds.

Cannily, Mr Haste has been outlining the things that need changing, and he's been saying all the right things so far.

Apparently, the moneylender is to drastically rethink the way it operates, stating that it would seek to only lend to people "who can reasonably afford to repay their loans" and ensuring "a tightening of Wonga's lending criteria".

It certainly sounds that Wonga and Mr Haste have reputation on the mind, with a set of key messages clearly woven into his comments to show a desire to be seen as reasonable, fair and transparent.

Reputation and trustworthiness are at the top of Wonga's agenda and if it continues to take drastic action and revamp its public face, it might yet win around its detractors.

Daniel O'Mahoney, managing director Bradley O'Mahoney Public Relations which has been protecting the reputation of clients in the public and private sectors for more than 20 years. Twitter @BRADLEYOMAHONEY, tel: 0191 519 7450


Daniel <B O'Mahoney

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 24, 2014
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