Your Reputation is a Measurable and Valuable Asset
“Your reputation is what you're perceived to be, your character is what you actually are,” goes the quote from legendary basketball coach John Wooden.
Reputation has always been a valued asset, but in this climate of conscious consumption, organizations are under increasing pressure to ensure what they say and do actually align. Indeed, does it really matter what you say your business stands for if your customers think something entirely different?
Practice what you preach
It is a familiar story to find organizations espousing certain values through purpose-driven communications, while failing to embrace these values within their own day-to-day business decisions.
State Street hit global headlines with its Fearless Girl statue facing down the Bull in Wall Street. The PR stunt became a symbol of female empowerment and gender equality. Later the firm had to cough up $5 million in settlement fees amidst allegations it systematically paid female executives less than males. Face-palm.
If you are a business leader, chances are you receive regular sales reports, but what about a regular sentiment update? Maybe you keep tabs on how often you are mentioned in the press and on social media, but are you able to derive real meaning from this and harness the value of the information back into the business?
What brand stands for
Jeff Bezos once said, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room”. In this case “the room” is an increasingly fractured media landscape, a globalized business world and a social media echo chamber polarising fans and haters. Capturing accurate intelligence on reputation and the key themes that drive it include stakeholders, customers, competitors, industry and regulatory bodies across territories and languages.
Navigating this effectively can be challenging, but not impossible. Deciding what to listen to is key; understanding what information is important to your strategy and which platforms, publications, journalists or influencers will impact your reputation, for example. Good media monitoring tools will give you access to this data in real time.
Once you are monitoring what’s being said, understanding how to feed this data into strategy via a measurement methodology is the next step. A proper framework will lasso even the most nebulous brand attributes into quantifiable metrics, giving you the hard numbers to create key performance indicators and manage improvement across the business.
Don't fall into the trap of confusing what is easily measured with what is important. Establish the factors affecting your brand and then build your methodology around them. In the communications arena Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) is often used to measure PR performance. It’s simple to calculate but tells you nothing about the impact or favourability of the media you have earned and provides no insight into your reputation.
In-depth insights into reputation provide a significant competitive edge. Clearly, the greater the understanding of sentiment around a business/product/industry at scale, the better placed you are to shape it.
Having the scope to spot potential threats to your reputation gives you more time to tackle them, and capitalize on opportunities to reinforce and develop it ahead of your competitors. This advanced knowledge could be the difference between a minor issue and a major PR disaster; between your character and your reputation.