The extended recession has taken a toll on industries – think financial services, real estate, and auto manufacturing – that consumers have held in high esteem for the last decade. A few months ago, a McKinsey Quarterly survey revealed that senior staffers in several industries must earn back the failed consumer trust in specific businesses and in the free market economic model. McKinsey is back this month with a detailed analysis of the ways that businesses can shore up their reputations.740357_buildings_nyc

The analysis first addresses the issue of specifically targeting consumer segments. Called attitudinal segments, companies can take specific steps to  change negative consumer attitudes in each group.

More interesting though, is McKinsey’s analysis of tactics companies have used to improve their reputations with a broad consumer base. Historically, reputation management has been left to public relations offices and agencies and traditionally, it’s been a one-way communication channel. Here are three examples of other ways to reach out to consumers while improving reputation:

Giving – McKinsey lists Timberland as an example of a company that gives to environmental causes. This visible support ensures that the consumer forms a positive association between the company and ‘good causes’.

Grassroots – Cisco, Intel and many others use blogs and Web sites to expand their bases of committed customers and  do so in a visible way.

Paid Media – Launch an ad campaign that delivers a specific and positive message across multiple media forms – TV, print, direct mail, online – to reach as many consumers as possible.

Read the other recommended elements of McKinsey’s recommended reputation management campaign here.

[Source: Rebuilding Corporate Reputations, McKinsey Quarterly, June 2009]