The future of reputation measurement

By Dennis Larsen

Reputation measurement has moved out of its pioneering phase to becoming a 'must have' of corporate relations functions and business strategists alike. One can no longer design engagement and communication plans without some form of stakeholder perception data. Reputation measurement, in its various forms, is now truly embedded in organisational planning cycles. To some extent, it has become a hygiene factor.

How can we ensure that reputation insights keep delivering value to organisations? 

In years to come, companies will need to go beyond 'standard' reputation metrics. If reputation measurement is currently all about tracking performance, the future of reputation measurement is about truly understanding stakeholder motivations in order to anticipate their behaviour.

Reputation measurement will evolve in four different ways.

1. Reputation will be an integral part of companies' business insights

Successful organisations are already combining in-depth stakeholder feedback with a raft of secondary data sources to form a fuller picture of reputation and how reputation drives stakeholder behaviour and business success. 

Reputation insights gathering can take many forms: perception measurement, expert dialogue sessions, media measurement or online data aggregation. We will continue to see firms reaping opportunities to integrate reputation models into existing research run across the organisation- delivering economies of scale and delivering a truly holistic reputation picture.

2. Reputation insights will deliver more than metrics, a true understanding of stakeholder motivations

Where cyclical reputation trackers are well-embedded, organisations are becoming more comfortable to go beyond reputation measurement and learn more about their stakeholders' preferences and expectations. In the coming era, organisations that fail to know what their stakeholders believe in, what sources they value and what will drive their decisions, will lose out. It is no longer sufficient to merely measure reputation. Effective reputation intelligence will cover the breadth of stakeholders' views on the organisation, the sector and the wider environment.

3. Reputation will be used as an ongoing management tool.

In the coming era, active reputation management will rely even more on detailed intelligence gathering and advanced analysis. Metrics will still be gathered to track performance and course correct plans, but the way the insights are used across various functions will see a further shift towards deeper and further reaching analysis. Advanced reputation management tools including online interactive portals, data cross-referencing and data-mining will become the norm. Corporate Social Responsibility functions will mine the insights from stakeholders to understand what issues they consider to be most material to address. Consumer insights teams will seek reputation intelligence to understand how corporate reputation is driving purchasing decisions. HR will be even more interested in how internal reputation is enhancing employee engagement.

4. Reputation insights will, finally, inform boardroom decisions

In the coming period, the battle for securing a seat at the business decision-making table should be over. Reputation is now formally and explicitly embedded at the very top of most successful organisations. This requires both regular metrics and KPIs to hold executives accountable and in-depth insights analysed when required. It will be standard process for firms to go beyond reputation.

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