The complete overview and checklist
Corporate reputation is a complex and multifaceted asset that should be addressed with dedication and care. The development of your overall reputation strategy should involve your leadership team.
- What is corporate reputation?
- How is reputation measured?
- Why is corporate reputation important?
- What affects your corporate reputation?
- The ultimate checklist for corporate reputation management
- Corporate reputation strategy FAQs
What is corporate reputation?
Your corporate reputation is an estimation of the general opinions held about your company. Reputation is different than character. Every aspect of your business operations, culture, environment, products/services, leadership, and performance is a part of your corporate reputation.
Check out the Corporate Reputation Guide here
Today, news and information are available almost instantly online, so virtually every decision and oversight made by stakeholders such as your employees, leadership, and affiliates becomes a factor in your reputation. But how much of a factor is determined by companies like Google, Bing, Amazon, YouTube, and Twitter. Why? Because those companies arrange content based on priority. If bad news is front and center, then that is how your company is perceived. If the same bad news languishes on page ten of a Google search, then it's far less relevant and less likely to negatively affect online sentiment.
How is reputation measured?
Different reputation management firms will measure your reputation in different ways. Some firms will even provide you with a reputation score that you can check against other companies to gauge your company standing relative to similar businesses.
The first step should be done manually. Start by conducting a simple Google search for your company. Using Google will provide you with the most accurate results because Google is the world’s largest and most popular search engine, dominating almost 75% of the market. Check each type of Google search (Example: All, News, Images, Videos, etc.) to see what the online world is saying about you. Dig into some of the highest-ranking articles and review them to read the public sentiment.
Checking search results manually gives you an overall view of what is going on, but it doesn't provide a comprehensive view. For instance, if you check how people perceive your brand in one location, it may differ somewhat in another location. Search results appear different in, say, New York compared to London, even though both countries speak the same language.
If you want to see what search results look like from a different location, you can use a simple VPN service like NordVPN, or use a tool like SEMRush to see far more detail about location-specific searches on desktop or mobile, multiple search engines, and quite a bit more about your SEO in general. Here is a list of some of the tools we use at Reputation X.
Next, search social media for mentions of your company and delve into those conversations to discover what people are saying on the ground level. Do it manually the first time to get a feel of what people say, various ways people may describe your brand, hashtags, and more. Tools like SocialMention can help here.
These tactics should give you an idea of whether the general feeling towards your business is positive or negative – and, importantly, why it’s positive or negative – which will give you a starting place for your corporate reputation management strategy.
There are also reputation monitoring tools. Tools fall into a few categories such as social media monitoring, sentiment analysis, and web mentions. Tools like TalkWalker, Social Mention and others can flag when your brand is mentioned online. For more detail on corporate sentiment monitoring see this article.
Why is corporate reputation important?
There are two sides to the value of your corporate reputation. On one side are all the benefits of building and maintaining a positive reputation. A positive reputation can:
- Increase the lifetime value of your customers
- Attract better talent to your organization
- Improve your position for partnerships
- Improve the overall value of your company
Many experts agree that your corporate reputation defines the value of your company because it encompasses factors that affect your value and also considers the public perception of those factors.
The flip side of your corporate reputation is what happens when your reputation is bad or when you’ve suffered reputation damage. Most reputational crises are caused by issues with the product, operations, leadership, culture, or politics of the company.
Statistics on corporate reputation
- 51% of business leaders believe reputation management will be a high priority over the next year
- Almost 70% of job seekers reported they would reject a job offered by a company with a bad reputation, even when unemployed
- 60% of consumers say negative reviews made them not want to use a business
- 95% of users don’t look past the first page of Google search results
- The average consumer mentions brands 90 times per week
- 54% of consumers use social media to research products
A negative corporate reputation can drop your share prices, slash your revenue, ruin your company value, and destroy any chance you had at attracting partners, buyers, or top talents. The best way to prevent a negative reputation is to start managing your reputation before it turns south.
What affects corporate reputation?
As society becomes more progressive, social responsibility grows as a contributor to your corporate reputation. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) includes your volunteerism and philanthropy, environmental responsibility, community responsibility, and the work environment and experience you provide for your employees.
Greenwashing corporate reputation
It’s not enough to create a marketing campaign that exaggerates your CSR for the public. This is known as greenwashing and often backfires, especially after a former employee launches an exposé. Improving your CSR involves actual dedication to improving your social accountability and reducing your environmental footprint on a corporate level.
One of the most main factors in assessing your company’s reputation is the quality of your products and services. Even if you excel in every other category, your reputation will suffer if the goods and services you provide are inferior or perceived to be so.
Quality, innovation, and value should be a major part of your reputation strategy. In the same way, your financial performance will have an effect on your reputation. Think Enron.
Connecting with your audience through a well-developed brand story is a great way to generate a positive and effective emotional appeal for your brand. Back up your brand story with transparent leadership and strong corporate values that are enforced from the top down. The following checklist provides a comprehensive look at each factor in your corporate reputation.
- Social responsibility
- Vision and leadership
- Products and services
- Emotional appeal
The corporate reputation management checklist
The first step in developing a strategy is to listen to what people are saying. This is where monitoring the conversation about your brand comes into play. Monitoring hashtags, search engine results sentiment, and how your brand name is used will help you identify strengths and weaknesses.
Your strategy should include plans to bolster weak areas and support strong areas. A weak area might be faulty products or service that people are complaining about in reviews, negative press coverage, or missteps by executive staff.
Strong areas might be positive news that lingers on page two or three in Google search results, positive reviews that are hidden, or award and other recognition that isn't highly visible.
Corporate social responsibility
You can learn more about corporate social responsibility here, but below are the main points:
- Support causes that are in line with your corporate values
- Assess your environmental impact
- Drive innovation to reduce environmental impact
- Participate in community responsibility and volunteerism
- Respect customer and employee privacy
- Drive innovation
- Define a clear mission and vision for the future
- Target market opportunities and develop a growth plan
- Develop strong corporate values and ensure adherence from the top down
- Improve profitability
- Improve advantage over competitors
- Reduce risk and improve return for investors
- Develop a growth strategy and scalability
- Strive for global presence
Products and services
- Ensure appropriate quality for price
- Drive innovation
- Improve value
- Demonstrate confidence in your products and services
- Competency of employees
- Ensure quality of customer service
- Ensure product/service safety
- Improve employee comfort
- Ensure adequate compensation and benefits
- Support family culture
- Foster a positive culture
- Eliminate sources of hostility and discomfort
- Increase diversity
- Encourage compliance from top to bottom
- Provide employee training and support
- Develop a strong brand story
- Nurture a strong corporate culture with strong values
- Be transparent and honest
- Speak directly to your audience
Online reputation management (ORM)
- Develop a strong online presence
- Claim and optimize social media accounts
- Publish positive content
- Build brand authority
- Monitor and respond to online mentions
- Drive positive reviews on all platforms
- Respond to negative reviews and comments
- Correct false negative content
- Use SEO to improve search results
Corporate reputation strategy FAQs
What is the difference between corporate image and corporate reputation?
Your corporate image is made up of the visual, emotional, and cognitive associations that the general public makes about your business. Simply put, it is what people think of when they think of your company. A business with a good corporate reputation will likely generate a good corporate image while a company with a bad reputation will likely generate a negative corporate image.
Are PR and reputation management related?
Yes, to some extent. Online reputation management agencies are different than public relations firms but they work hand-in-hand. Reputation management firms use PR companies, and vice versa. PR companies are great at getting publishers to talk about your company, to manage crisis communications, and even to help companies earn awards. Reputation management companies are laser-focused on how your corporate image is reflected online in the form of articles, reviews and ratings, Wikipedia, images, and social media. There is overlap, but PR firms tend to be far more general in nature, whereas reputation experts tend to be more technical and focused on online sentiment. Reputation X works with PR firms every day.
What does a reputation manager do?
Reputation management firms build, maintain, and recover your corporate reputation. Because your reputation is multifaceted, a management firm must be able to develop a complex and comprehensive strategy that covers each contributing factor, such as your corporate social responsibility (CSR), the quality of your products and service, leadership and financial performance, employee satisfaction and work environment, innovation, and integrity. Your strategy should also address the presence of online content that is either improving or damaging your reputation.