By Katarzyna Stamatel, Head of Law & Consulting, Poland, MSLGROUP
“What is reputation, and what is its value for Polish companies and organizations?” We asked this question to representatives of Polish and international companies, financial institutions and industry organizations during our conference “Invaluable reputation – protects, motivates, sales!”
The conference was organized by MSLGROUP and Harvard Business Review Polska and took place on December 10th 2013 in association with the Warsaw Stock Exchange, the National Depository for Securities and the Polish Institute of Directors.
Corporate reputation is increasing in importance in Poland, as organizations experience the positive impact of a strong reputation on growth and as the country’s youth begins to realize the power of social media in driving change.
At the conference, MSLGROUP experts Roland Klein, head of the CNC Communications office in London, Andrew MacDougall, Senior Executive Consultant at MSLGROUP London, and Anders Lindberg, head of JKL, discussed the components of reputation, methods of effective public relations and new norms for responding to the ‘perfect storm.’
Here are the points that resonated most with the conference attendants.
Key takeaways from the conference
- Reputation is a credit of trust that allows companies to establish relationships, conduct activities and lead development of the organization. After all, “without trust the business cannot grow, without reputation we cannot trust the business.“
- Reputation begins with employees. Only when they become ambassadors of the company and its products or ideas will the company reach a wider audience.
- Cultural specificities matter. Even though we live in a global world of information and values, there are some specific cultural circles, specific places where you need to be especially careful with your selection of approach tools and the type of communication.
- Reputation leads to customer loyalty. In the B2C sector, in financial markets or in open industries, reputation enforces sales and helps to attract and to keep customers.
- Reputation provides a “license to grow.” In the B2B sector, a strong reputation carries slightly different benefits. It can provide access to capital, enable better collaboration with business partners and ensure a stronger relationship with market regulators. Reputation gives companies the “license to operate” and the “license to grow.”
- Companies and the Polish government must be more transparent and co-operative. Regardless of the industry, the most important aspects are: maintaining full transparency and clear communication from both sides. Moreover, both the government and the business partner must act on long-term action plans to realize valuable projects in a win-win model.
- Companies should be more transparent in projects they lead with the government, and realize their work supports their economy and impacts their own market situation. From the other side, governments can benefit from international companies’ expertise and good practices from other markets.
- Governments should maintain balance in newly introduced regulations, especially within the banking sector, as excessive liabilities may restrict their ability to finance the economy.
- Polish youth are embracing social media. The young generation is a few years behind their global counterparts in setting new norms and in their attention to human rights and corruption. However, on issues such as tolerance and openness, Polish consumers have changed significantly and are verbal about their views. In Poland there are currently over 8 million active users on social media and that number is growing rapidly. Veracity, good intentions, transparency and honesty are important elements when communicating with this group over social media.
- Polish customers are also becoming more aware. They are no longer just at the end of the chain, but want to actively create products and affect companies’ offer. Increasingly, they use social media, especially during crises, to improve their negotiating power or position.
Companies need to be structured for speed
Today’s crises are quicker and know no boundaries. The “perfect storm,” a crisis with significant consequences for both reputation as well as organization’s business activity, is more common and demands real-tile responses. Today, crises spread with lightning speed and often have a global impact.
When managing crises, companies must communicate true information a rate reflecting the social media reality. Speed is of essence in crisis communication activities and often requires new, more effective processes within the organization.
This post is part of the People’s Insights magazine “The Future of Reputation“