23 October 2013

Building Reputation in the 21st Century

As traditional media models change, stakeholder expectations are evolving all across the corporate spectrum. Readily available information about companies has bred overwhelming interest in corporate values. Against this backdrop, the most enduring and successful companies will be those that can effectively communicate the substance and relevance of their unique character.
Central to communicating character are reputational programs that reinforce character through four main principles:
  1. Know and live your values. In order to be credible, reputation efforts must: a) have enterprise-wide alignment, b) be supported at all levels of the company, and c) create value for both the business and the larger community. Everyone from the boardroom to showroom to the person in the street should know what you stand for, and why.
  2. Listen to your stakeholders. Listening is one of the most important and often-neglected aspects of building stakeholder relationships. In-depth primary research and advanced social-media analysis are two important ways the most effective brands keep track of — and impact — stakeholder opinion.
  3. Communicate relentlessly. The public wants relationships with companies and they want to feel proud of their associations. Companies who are appropriately transparent to the public and other stakeholders are more able to benefit from — and to shape — the public conversation about their character.​
  4. Measure your impact. Communications today are global in scope and nearly instantaneous in impact, both positive and negative. Companies with frequent, highly granular measurement programs will have the information they need to optimize their reputation in the face of both sudden emergencies and long-simmering shifts in global opinion.
In the 21st Century, a company’s reputation is what the Public says it is. Focusing on character will help companies evolve reputation strategies and communications in tandem and build strong and meaningful relationships with increasingly educated and empowered consumers.

Michael Lustina is the President and Chief Operating Officer at Research+Data Insights, a Hill+Knowlton Strategies Company.