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Wonga banks on pro-active issues management to protect its reputation

September 17, 2013 by Jonathan Hemus

Last week we suggested how businesses can take a more pro-active approach to issues management when faced with challenges such as zero hours contracts (click here to see our blog post).

So I was fascinated to see how Wonga, the short term cash loan company, has decided on a pro-active approach to the reputational issues it is facing.  The company, portrayed by its critics as a legalised loan shark and the subject of continued negative press coverage, has just published its first public report and accounts.  The interesting thing is that, as a private company, it has no legal requirement to do so and certainly not to hold the press briefing which accompanied its launch.

Wonga has clearly decided that sitting back and taking criticism from all and sundry is an ineffective reputation management strategy.  Instead, CEO Errol Damelin faced his critics, explained Wonga’s business model and answered tough questions from the media.  You may not agree with his business model, but you have to admire him for his willingness to stand up for it.  It is only by creating a better understanding of what the company does and how it does it through pro-active communication, that Wonga can hope to build trust and a positive reputation.

As the Daily Telegraph said in an article headed “Wonga can’t be faulted for its openness” (the kind of headline which itself proves the value of the company’s reputation management strategy), “better to be part of the debate than hide from the spotlight”.

Wonga is a long way from becoming the nation’s favourite corporate brand, but its courage in setting the communication agenda gives it the best opportunity of successfully managing its own reputation.

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