In surveying 150 executives in corporate communications, reputation management, strategy and C-suite roles in 20 countries recently, the annual Reputation Leaders Study found that companies with strong or excellent reputations more often have a foundation of measurement in place and are now focusing on cross-stakeholder communication, corporate social responsibility and managing reputation risks.
Companies with an average reputation, on the other hand, are still working on developing the business case and finding the best approach to measuring their reputation.
This was true across a wide variety of geographies and industries, with respondents companies ranging from less than $1 billion to those $30 billion or more.
For CEOs in particular, the first step in developing a strong reputation is implementing a structured process for integrating reputation management into the core business.
According to the research, the lack of such a process is the number one challenge to successful reputation management. Fewer than half the reputational leaders surveyed reported that their organizations have the right internal competencies, structures, processes and methodologies in place to assess and manage reputation risks.
That starts with knowing how key stakeholders view the company, and what factors—including leadership, governance, products/services, innovation, workplace, citizenship and performance— influence them, whether they are customers, employees, regulators, investors or others.
With that knowledge, vision-casting chief executives are well positioned to focus on the kind of strategies that influence corporate reputation, from cross-stakeholder communications that articulate and reinforce the company’s core values, to corporate social responsibility indicatives that demonstrate those values in action.