Research results can provide important insight into corporate reputation management best practices, ultimately aimed at transforming the media coverage on a particular industry or brand into strategic insight that will inform brand and reputation management.
Declining reputation ratings in the Ask Afrika Trust Barometer ® since 2005 could be an indication that South African companies are not actively and voluntarily managing their reputation by, among other things, sustaining good governance practices. Ineffective reputation management has the potential to destroy a company’s reputation almost overnight. Business leaders need to pay closer attention to the impact of corporate reputation and the importance of building, managing and measuring their corporate reputation and levels of trust. Actively managing reputation an integral part of corporate governance and will result in a respected brand and will have a positive impact on your company’s bottom line. It also assists your company to retain a firm grip on public trust at all times. In essence, there is a clear link between reputation management and financial performance. A strong association between trust and reputation is clear and financial sustainability comes into question when reputation declines.
Dr Amelia Richards in conversation with BizRadio’s Grant Jansen
Podcast | Click HERE to listen
The role of the CEO in trust and reputation
Previous and current research have all indicated that corporate reputation, trust and the CEO of a company are all closely intertwined. Given that corporate reputation circulates around the 3 pillars of trust, reputation and the CEO, it stands to reason that the CEO is a critical part of corporate trust and reputation, essentially driving the leadership and consequent image of the company. The CEO is therefore crucial to facilitate a positive reputation and to instilling trust in the moral fibre and integrity of a company. Consequently, it is crucial for the CEO to be visible at all times, during a crises and not, in order to represent the brand and human capital of the company and to communicate the positioning of the company.
The CEO is pivotal, without effective leadership on his or her part, trust and reputation cannot be promoted in a given company. It is all about integrity, sustainability and industry respect which is largely driven by the communication of the CEO. Therefore, corporate reputation, trust and the performance of the CEO form the basis of corporate trust.
Below are some examples of recent instances that shows how strong leaders were able to turn the reputation scare around, and others not. These case studies highlight the important crisis communication principles of tell the truth, tell it first and fast.
During Pick ‘n Pay’s poisoning scare, the company showed responsible control of its public image and the group’s Chief Executive, Sean Summers, was a perfect example of how a company spokesperson should respond to the media.
How can research help?
With this approach Ask Afrika was able to assist the brand to address the following objectives:
Enable proactive issues management by addressing the following research objectives through detailed media analysis:
- Use basic descriptive statistics to substantiate discussion of the reporting patterns of publications for the brand in relation to other industry players.
- To assess the content of reporting, in terms of volume, nature and content.
- Identify key media sources for the brand and competitors , linked to share of voice.
- Provide CEO profiles for the brand and its and competitors.
- Share corporate reputation management best practice learnings, thereby providing strategic insight that will inform brand and reputation management going forward.
In conclusion reputation management is an important factor in the success of any business, especially when things go wrong. Unbiased research results can assist brand owners to manage, measure and track reputation through issues management on a regular basis to gauge performance on current issues and to proactively identity potential reputation threats.