What are the best practice solutions to improve reputation management systems?

Drawn from our new brief, Building Resilient Corporate Reputations, this new blog series explores best-practice solutions to common challenges and shortcomings of corporate reputation management. Whether you need to begin, to evaluate or to re-design your reputation management system, the brief and blog series will help you to assess how fit-for-purpose your current reputation approach may be. Femke de Man, Director, Reputation, introduces the findings in the video below.
As society becomes more globally interconnected and expectations of business increase and expand into new areas, the pressure for companies to have strong, resilient corporate reputations continues to build. And yet, executives at many large companies have reservations about the business value they receive for their investment in this area.
We believe that much of this disappointment relates to the narrowness of the standard approach, which to date has focused too heavily on simple benchmarks and positioning. Given the growing importance of stakeholder relations in the development and execution of corporate strategy (see our previous blog series on stakeholder engagement), it is time for leading companies to broaden their understanding of the value and impact of reputation on success, and work toward a more holistic view of corporate well-being.
To help corporate practitioners achieve the value-driving potential of a fully-evolved reputation framework, we’ve identified a number of best-practice solutions to common challenges and shortcomings of corporate reputation systems. We’ll be sharing these with you over the next few weeks in our reputation blog series.

Let’s start by focusing on what we see as a critical first step in managing reputation – understanding the issues context. Building a company’s reputation requires much time and effort, but corporate reputations can be deeply harmed in an instant, sometimes overnight (Read our analysis of how the EU horse meat scandal affected consumer opinion.) This is especially true in a world where consumers have little trust in large corporations, people are more and more connected, and news travels very quickly.
To properly manage reputation, and to improve corporate resiliency in times of crisis, it is necessary to understand the economic, social and competitive context within which companies operate, and how they are positioned relative to emerging or ongoing sectoral issues and opportunities. For example, an extractive industry leader would examine elements relating to its ‘social license to operate’, understanding that having the ongoing approval and social acceptance of its activities by local communities and other stakeholders is at the heart of its business success. Without ongoing support from the communities where it operates, an extractive leader can easily be displaced and lose access to valuable resources. For companies operating in a strong regulatory context or with a heavy social and environmental footprint, understanding the importance of retaining and renewing social license, and the impact it can have on business outcomes and perceptions of trust, is critical to a well-designed reputation management strategy.
In many other sectors, from ICT to FMCG, where reputation is driven primarily by product and service quality and innovation, trust resides in the company’s contribution to consumer’s well-being and, increasingly, in how it can enable a better world. (Read how Pepsi integrated GlobeScan’s public opinion insights into business strategy.)
So, what’s the key take-away for someone involved in their organization’s reputation management? Deeply understand the context within which stakeholders interpret your company’s actions and decisions. This includes the current dynamics of business and society, the relevance and potential impact of key issues, and the relative performance of competitors.

Building Resilient Corporate Reputations: A GlobeScan Brief and Blog Series

Blog Series: PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 PART 4 PART 5 PART 6
Download the Brief: Building Resilient Corporate Reputations