According to Business Matters, a company’s reputation is crucial to its success. When tracked effectively, it can reveal valuable insights into a brand’s current position in public opinion. This understanding provides a foundation for PR teams to make informed decisions about their communications strategy.
What Are Reputational Drivers?
Reputational drivers are the factors that contribute to a company’s overall reputation. Defining and tracking these key metrics will help public relations professionals to understand their company brand and more effectively manage their reputation.
RepTrak outlines seven drivers of reputation that can highlight an organization’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas for growth. As Reptrak points out, these categories can help you pinpoint the different aspects of your organization that are receiving press coverage.
Based on the seven drivers, PublicRelay has developed a framework for determining the essential drivers of corporate reputation that can be tailored to apply to any organization. By using this framework, your PR team can design a media monitoring strategy that effectively tracks the factors comprising your brand.
PublicRelay’s framework consists of:
- Products and Services. What are the individual elements of the products and services you offer?
- Business Strategy. What actions has your company taken to meet its business goals?
- Workplace. What is your company’s workplace culture?
- Leadership. Does your organization have a clear mission, and is there accountability among its executives?
- Corporate Social Responsibility. How does your company give back to the community or try to make the world a better place?
- Financial Performance. What is the state of your company’s financial health?
- Government Relations. Is your company in-line with industry regulations? Is your company involved in any litigation?
Each driver is connected to a specific facet of your company’s operations. Together, they help to paint a picture of the public’s perception of your brand. The final image serves as a vital tool in crafting a strong communications plan.
Why Are Reputational Drivers Important in a Communications Strategy?
Reputational drivers are important in a communications strategy because understanding the nuances of your corporate reputation will enable you to make data-driven decisions.
Reputation may feel like an intangible concept when you begin developing a communications plan. By dividing it into specific drivers, seemingly vague ideas become concrete and measurable parts of your business. Breaking it down across these seven drivers will help you to focus your messaging on the drivers that are most important to your communications objectives.
For instance, perhaps mentions of your company have been more negative than usual over the past week. By examining media content, you could uncover that negative press has largely focused on your products and services. This insight would allow you to work across teams, flagging the criticism to your product and development team for further inquiry. As a PR professional, you now have the opportunity to help shift the narrative in your brand’s favor. Once you have a firm understanding of which aspects of your brand are drawing attention, be it positive or negative, you can go to work crafting compelling content to balance the narrative.
The framework can also strengthen an organization’s external media capabilities. Once you have identified which categories are crucial to your brand’s current messaging, tracking coverage across all seven drivers can reveal further insights. In monitoring your company’s press coverage, you may begin to see which drivers are underperforming over time. Analyzing your coverage for patterns or emerging trends allows you to make intelligent and informed decisions.
Reputational Driver Metrics
It’s clear that drivers of corporate reputation provide invaluable insights for communications teams, but how do you tailor each to your company’s unique objectives?
Whether you decide to monitor your media in-house or use an agency, tailoring your drivers to your company and industry will ensure you are able to capture your metrics accurately.
When building your communications strategy, begin to consider the individual drivers and how each metric applies to your company and desired brand:
Products and Services
Define each aspect of the products and/or services your company offers. The distinction between the two is that products are generally tangible goods (e.g., a cheeseburger), while services are intangible activities performed by people (e.g., table service).
The benefit to tracking the elements of your products and services independently is that if you begin to see negative coverage of this driver, you can pinpoint which facet is perceived negatively.
Let’s say you work for a software company. When it comes to your products and services, you may want to monitor mentions of the various features of your software, product performance, new releases and upgrades, user experience, and customer service.
Business strategy refers to the actions your company takes to reach your objectives or remain competitive in your industry. This can include partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, ad revenue, or industry innovation.
For example, strategic business partnerships are known to improve companies’ credibility, long-term stability, and access to knowledge and resources, enabling them to expand the scope and quality of their offerings.
Workplace culture and employee experience are both important factors in measuring corporate reputation. Monitoring the workplace facet of your brand’s reputation could involve assessing coverage of employee benefits, training and advancement opportunities, and mentions of diversity and inclusion efforts.
Stakeholders often view workplace culture as an insight into the company’s alignment with its core values. If a company claims to value people over profit, but their own employees are struggling to make ends meet, then consumers may start to doubt the company’s integrity.
A company with a clear mission and executives that align with those values is perceived as more accountable and trustworthy.
Measuring this reputational driver will likely cover mentions of company executives, spokespeople, and potential insights or thought leadership they may offer. Identify every key member of or role in your company’s leadership structure to effectively track this driver.
CEOs and other leaders are perceived as representatives of company brands. If an executive is involved in a scandal, for instance, it will reflect negatively on the company’s reputation. On the other hand, a company’s reputation can benefit from a CEO with a positive public image.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility is a powerful driving force behind a brand’s reputation. CSR encompasses charitable donations, sponsorship of local community events, or environmental initiatives.
CSR programs say more about a company’s values than the quality of its products and services, but they still impact consumer behavior. In a survey of consumers, RepTrak found that “91.4% of respondents would buy from a company with an excellent CSR program.” Another 84.3% would give a company “the benefit of the doubt” during a crisis if it had a strong CSR program.
Following media coverage of your brand’s financial performance may involve examining analyst projections, quarterly earnings, or share values. Analysis of this coverage furthers your understanding of public opinion of your company’s financial health and stability.
Financial performance contributes to a company’s reputation because it is an indicator of whether the company can deliver on the other drivers. For example, if a company is doing well financially, it is more likely able to expand its product development, hire more employees, and make charitable donations to social causes.
When tracking government relations, consider monitoring any relevant industry legislation or regulation, and your company’s involvement in litigation. For instance, if your company is cited in an ongoing legal discussion concerning privacy standards across platforms, it could impact perceptions of and trust in your brand.
Manage Your Corporate Reputation
The insights PR teams can glean from investigating their company’s reputational drivers are essential to effectively managing corporate reputation. Analysis of these drivers will help you to craft a targeted media strategy to elevate your brand. By understanding where your brand currently stands, you will be better prepared to achieve your brand objectives.
At PublicRelay, we offer bespoke media monitoring programs designed to help your public relations team understand and reach your communications goals. Build your custom media monitoring program now!