By Pascal Beucler, Chief Strategy Officer, MSLGROUP
Reputation: The Now & the Next
A lot has changed in recent years. In particular, three shifts have boosted reputation to the #1 Strategic Risk today, as was found in a recent Forbes-Deloitte study.
- Shift in stakeholders – From Powerless to Empowered
- Shift in corporate ethics – From Social Responsibility to Citizenship and Sustainability
- Shift in purchase decisions – From buying the Product to buying the Purpose
More and more, we are seeing these trends emerge across markets. People across the world are realizing the power of social networks, valuing social performance ahead of financial performance and demanding corporates and brands contribute to local communities. As a result clients across the globe are embracing communications to manage reputational issues.
In this issue of the People’s Insights magazine, our experts explore the concept of reputation to understand what it is composed of, who is driving it, and how brands can excel at building strong reputations for the long term.
Today’s Stakeholders are demanding, but open to collaboration
In the past, companies catered primarily to customers, regulators and shareholders, not necessarily in that order. Today, thanks to the social digital revolution, new stakeholders have emerged:
- Millennials – born between the 1980s and 2000s, this generation extends across all stakeholder groups. Already organizations are engaging with millennial customers, regulators, shareholders, employees and external influencers. Not only is the generation personally driven to be better citizens and make a difference, it expects businesses to do more to address society’s challenges
- Employees –past, current and future employees are empowered by personal and professional social networks. Through their actions in both the real and virtual world, they can have a direct impact on customer loyalty and corporate reputation.
- External influencers – external subject matter experts are passionate about shaping the future and willing to co-create it. They exert influence within their own networks of like-minded peers or occasionally through traditional media.
Reputation Management: From Risk Mitigation to Competitive Advantage
These stakeholders represent a huge untapped potential to be really authentic and powerful advocates and influencers. To engage them, companies must:
- Do the Right Thing – with ethical and sustainable development plans
- (Re)engage with employees & tap into their Social IQ – to harness authentic and powerful voices
- Co-create the company’s offer and strategy with influencers – to boost innovation and add credibility to a brand’s promise of sustainable development
- Engage around a shared purpose – that aligns the interests of business and stakeholders
In addition, corporates and brands can leverage the latest social and digital tools to:
- Monitor what people are saying with Big Data
Social conversations and data can be analyzed to track the rise of negative comments (who, what, where) and intercept before they become crises, understand how people really perceive your brand and measure the impact of communications in real-time.
- Communicate frequently and consistently by becoming Social Squared
Organizations should balance traditional and new techniques – cater to influencers with mass reaches while also tapping into new influencers and niche communities – and generate a steady stream of meaningful content.
Finally, to succeed in the long term, organizations must take measures to elevate the importance of reputation internally:
- Assign ownership to executives at the Board Level
Senior buy-in is crucial to drive meaningful change across the organization and earn credibility externally. By assigning responsibility to the board or a dedicated executive or team, organizations are better geared to approach reputation as a competitive advantage.
Today’s winning corporates and brands are already inspiring young talent, benefiting local communities, building a smarter tomorrow, creating shared value and committing to sustainability. Tomorrow’s reputed organizations will be purpose-led companies, good corporate citizens, employers of choice and social squared organizations.
We invite you to explore these ideas over the next pages and to start a conversation with us on how you can protect and project your organization’s reputation.