Today we all operate in a Reputation Economy; a marketplace where stakeholder support is now based more on perceptions of your company than perceptions of your products or services. Who you are matters more than what you produce.
Stakeholder perceptions of company behavior are now the lead driver of enterprise value. Studies show that companies with high reputations are worth as much as 150% more than those with low reputations.
We call this new operating environment the Reputation Economy. You live in it. And your company’s constellation of stakeholder and influencer relationships is your reputation ecosystem. Something you can clearly map, measure and influence. It’s global – and mission-critical for companies like yours to understand and navigate.
You measure perceptions, you study behavior, and you track your business metrics but you have been unable to connect all three together. It’s imperative that all actions taken to drive stakeholder perceptions or behaviors can be explicitly mapped to business outcomes – on a predictive and performance tracking basis.
RI has found that less than half of all programs primarily focused on reputation are accompanied by performance measures that tie to bottom-line numbers. Although this is not always an easy link to create, for a program to be sustainable (receive continued and additional funding), it must be connected to value.
Every company’s success hinges on an “ecosystem of influence” where the behaviors and links between multiple stakeholders directly affect your business outcomes. You need a predictive model for actions taken in this ecosystem to determine strategy and resource allocation.
In case your stakeholder mix is not complicated enough, what happens to corporate strategy when it encounters the needs of multiple stakeholders in multiple markets? We call this “going global in the Reputation Economy” and you need a system that guides action (as opposed to dictating action) allowing consistency AND local relevance.
In the Reputation Economy, where all senior executives understand how important reputation is, there are still pockets of resistance to the idea that reputation can be strategically managed or leveraged as an asset. You need to create this case and you need it to drive buy-in and enrollment of your senior executives.
You’ve sampled all of the standardized and syndicated models for understanding your stakeholders, and you may even be living with a tracker that is rigid and focused on single stakeholders or issues. You need a framework that is customizable, proven, ties to benchmarks, and can be used across all stakeholders, markets and methodologies.
You have the perfect strategy, you even know what everyone in your internal and external world needs to do in order for this strategy to succeed, but you need them to actually do those things. You need a detailed, prescriptive plan that optimizes your communication and engagement internally and externally to secure maximum strategic alignment.
The one constant in the world of communications and reputation is change and along with additional focus and responsibility has come complexity – in terms of channels, stakeholder segmentation, and specialized execution partners. You need an approach to align all efforts for consistency and effectiveness.
In every industry there are key influencers – industry and policy thought leaders – who determine whether or not your company will be successful in their arena. Whether that’s marketplace influencers (impacting your customers) or government influencers (who affect your tax and regulatory situation), you need a plan to strengthen and deepen these relationships. Specifically, you need a plan for who to focus on and how to engage them beyond the typical issue-driven agenda.
Your organization has bought in to the idea of reputation, so now your biggest challenge is finding a way for your function and business unit leads to incorporate reputation management into the way they make decisions. This must start with a tie to the business and resource planning process and the establishment of a cross-functional steering committee.