Reputation is the overall estimation in which an organisation is held by its internal and external stakeholders based on its past actions and probability of its future behaviour.
The organisation may have a slightly different reputation with each stakeholder according to their experiences in dealing with the organisation or in what they have heard about it from others.
Many organisations put the importance of a good reputation to the back of their minds while they attend to more hard-edged, day-to-day urgencies.
And yet, many organisations consider their greatest asset to be their good name or reputation.
The main benefits of a good reputation are:
- Customer preference in doing business with you when other companies’ products and services are available at a similar cost and quality
- Your ability to charge a premium for products and services
- Stakeholder support for your organisation in times of controversy and crisis
- Your organisation’s value in the financial marketplace
The two main sources of a corporate reputation are experience and information – a person’s past dealings with your organisation and the extent and nature of their direct and indirect communication with you.
A favourable reputation requires more than just an effective communication effort; it requires an admirable identity that can be moulded through consistent performance over many years.
A US study showed there are main components of corporate reputation used in reputation measurement systems:
- Ethics: the organisation behaves ethically, is admirable, is worthy of respect, is trustworthy
- Employees/workplace: has talented employees, treats its people well, is an appealing workplace
- Financial performance: is financially strong, has a record of profitability, has growth prospects
- Leadership: is a leader rather than a follower, is innovative.
- Management: is well managed, has high quality management, has a clear vision for the future
- Social responsibility: recognises social responsibilities, supports good causes
- Customer centered: cares about customers, is strongly committed to customers
- Quality: offers high quality products and services
- Reliability: stands behind its operations strategy, products and services, provides consistent service
- Emotional appeal: feel good about, is kind, is fun
- Value: provides value to people, and is good for the planet
How to build your corporate reputation
Operate in a sound and ethical way, and work to communicate this to stakeholders. Act to strengthen your standing in the areas that you consider important to your reputation.
Reputation is shaped more by operational practices than by communication practices – actions speak louder than words.
These six steps can strengthen a reputation through a stakeholder relations program:
- Conduct research to know key stakeholders better
- Assess stakeholder strengths and weaknesses, and focus on the gap between internal realities and stakeholder perceptions
- Research the main factors comprising the reputation of your organisation and align them with policies, systems and programs in all functional areas. This produces a powerful re-orientation of priorities and behaviours
- Set plans to exceed stakeholder expectations
- Involve the CEO as the greatest ally or champion of a reputation program
- Measure regularly against targets and act to improve the results