Unlocking Reputation Insights

By John Keilthy

Each and every one of us has a unique DNA - a molecular make-up which shapes our individual personalities and indeed, our individual reputations.

In our professional lives, we obsess about our key traits and what makes us stand out from everyone else, as ultimately these are the drivers which define our career success. Through structured performance reviews and ongoing professional development, we discover where our strengths lie, what we must improve upon and what opportunities and challenges potentially await us. This process is cyclical, ongoing and measurable and for most, the result is a stronger personal reputation which eventually leads to financial, promotional and other rewards in the workplace.

So, what if we thought about organisations in that same way? What if we considered our organisation, not as a one-dimensional entity driven only by financial performance (or some such other singular metric) but as a living, breathing 'personality' defined by multiple characteristics unique to that company? And what if we applied the same vigilance to measuring and improving our organisation's reputation as our own?

As guardians of our respective organisation's reputations, we are increasingly held accountable for the perceptions important and influential stakeholders have of us and the impact they potentially have on our ability to operate and thrive.  But if you don't measure your organisation's reputation, you certainly can't manage, maintain or enhance it. And in these uncertain times, protect it, should the need arise.

Last Thursday, we explored this very topic at a business breakfast in the RHA Gallery, looking at how to establish what drives a company's reputation in order to inform business and communication strategies. 

It was perhaps poignant that the event took place in the Dr. Tony Ryan Gallery, one of Ireland's most successful business people and a name synonymous with two iconic enterprises in GPA and Ryanair. Two very different organisations but with very definite and distinct reputations.

In its day, GPA was the world's leading aircraft leasing company, building its reputation on the basis of hiring the brightest and the best, developing innovative financing solutions and successfully attracting premier global financial institutions as clients.

And Ryanair - now one of Europe's largest budget airlines with a reputation built on a low cost operating model, a no frills service offering, and a no apologies culture.

Despite being, in many respects, polar opposite corporate personalities, common to both is an understanding of the attributes that define and drive their individual reputations and resonate with their most important stakeholders. 

True too of some of our clients - Accenture, Diageo, University College Cork - who shared with attendees last week their experiences of defining their unique reputations before measuring it with the individuals and groups that matter most to their success. For these leading organisations, the journey has been one of enlightenment, or endorsement, but regardless, it has provided reputation evidence with which to guide their strategic direction at a business level and communications level.

An organisation's reputation may not be a molecular map of genetic particles, but it is a map of attributes and drivers - one which could tell us a lot about ourselves and the companies we represent.

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