This Oxford Analytica Leader Has Some Reputation Management Tips for Companies
The Managing Director at Oxford Analytica, a company that is not in any way related to Cambridge Analytica, Michael Stopford is a man donning many hats.
His expertise in reputational risk management makes him an ideal leader who can assist companies worldwide on what should be done, what should be dumped.
Michael Stopford believes reputation is important above all for corporations, governments, institutions and universities.
Speaking to Entrepreneur Asia Pacific, Stopford spilled some industry secrets.
“Reputation management is absolutely critical especially for large companies - but even for the smallest companies starting up; I do think that reputation management is of utmost importance,” says Stopford.
It’s in the brand, in the name, it is in the value added -- that’s what the customers are getting. They are not just getting basics: whether it’s a drink by Coca Cola or a service by Uber, they are getting a service they believe they can rely on and trust. "I think that’s why a customer chooses a chain of hotels over a local hotel with no connection." The brand which is associated with the reputation is why people are prepared to pay for them, thinks Stopford.
His extensive international experience in both the public intergovernmental and multinational corporate sectors makes him believe it is incredibly easy to damage reputation; to do something or say something that can undo years of hard work and the energy put in. All of this can be at stake while companies or institutions struggle to get it back. And if it is lost, it’s lost quickly. Then it will not be back for a long time.
So for institutions that try to protect the names of their brand and reputation - one thing that they can do is to be very clear about what their activities are, especially at the global scale, thinks Stopford. He offers three tips.
Firstly, be aware of all the work that you are doing, the extent of your stakeholders, your suppliers and contractors: you need to have a good analysis of everything you are doing and the possible implications, says Stopford. And try to be aware of what could be coming to disrupt you (we at Oxford Analytica can help with that!)
The second imperative is to be completely transparent. Mistakes do happen but the worst thing you can do is to try to deny them. What you have to do is to be completely honest if you have made a mistake and own it and make a big transformation in fixing it. Then you also have to act quickly. I would say that my company, Oxford Analytica, has a very good reputation. You know people got confused with the name of a company that popped up a few years ago, Cambridge Analytica, and everyone got it wrong. So we moved fast to explain the difference – and by the way the other company collapsed fairly rapidly.
Thirdly promote and enhance your brand and reputation by building alliances and partnerships, even with actors in quite a different sector. Devote resources to that and it will have a “halo” effect for you. This is the most valuable outcome of corporate social responsibility.
Stopford recently served as global corporate strategist for Weber Shandwick, one of the world's largest communications agencies, and advised major private and public sector clients on reputational risk and related issues.
He thinks one of the most important things companies can do to maintain their reputation and businesses together is to have a horizon scan about what could be coming over the horizon impacting their business.
In the private sector, Stopford has held senior positions with ExxonMobil, the global agribusiness Syngenta and The Coca-Cola Company.
From his experience, he states that one of the initiatives he ran at The Coca-Cola Company, called the Public Policy and Corporate Reputation Council, led people to say they can succeed if they have a really good horizon scan.
He thinks that intelligence can very much help with your reputation. It can help you in discovering lots of opportunities. And he suggests that corporations should look beyond their shareholders to the wide range of stakeholders with whom they can build partnership and allies with, says Stopford, who served with the United Nations and with the World Bank's International Finance Corporation.
He believes companies should above all be truly aware of the connection between the company’s value and the reputation of the brand. They should invest time and resources into protecting reputation and safeguarding it; in this way they can preserve hard-won leadership positions.
Entrepreneur Asia Pacific spoke to Michael Stopford as he attended The 2018 Horasis India Meeting in Malaga, Spain earlier this month.
More than 300 members of the Horasis Visions Community gathered to jointly inspire India’s future. The 2018 Horasis India Meeting explored Indian firms’ rise to global eminence while debating how to grow India’s economy rapidly and sustainably.