We know that corporate reputation is critical; but for most companies it is intangible and subjective, and simply too difficult to discuss, let alone try to manage. But as with many gaps in business strategy, the problem is not a lack of data – if anything, it’s a question of far too much.
Quite simply, all the data in the world isn’t much good unless you can analyse it and put it to good use.
Reputation comprises the beliefs and opinions held by others about an organisation or individual. As such, being able to understand it through forms of scientific rigour has long been a challenge, with attempts to do so typically marked by subjectivity and taking feeds from multiple types of data in order to try to know what’s really going on.
There is a grand irony that when a reputational crisis hits, companies often know what to do and gather actionable data on it, yet at most other times few companies have any way to effectively address reputation risk and its value.
And the available data keeps on growing. From digitised traditional media to internet news sites, social media, and digitised libraries of reports and white papers. From brand resonance surveys to attitudinal studies to customer questionnaires to employee engagement polls. The data streams that could be assessed in order to determine reputation risk and value keep on growing, as do the number of tools that can help with aspects of evaluation.
Invariably, what communications teams have to grapple with, and what the most senior executives get presented with, are multiple reputation indicators, and perhaps with some subjective conclusions about what they mean when combined. Gaining a single view of reputation upon which to take action with confidence has been beyond reach.