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REPUTATION– ITS RELEVANCE, ITS MEASUREMENT AND ITS IMPORTANCE

Reputation is a topic that is increasingly being discussed in the public relations arena, with more and more organisations recognising its importance for their bottom line. Recent examples show how a company’s reputation can be destroyed in no time at all. BlackBerry went from ‘must have’ business accessory to millstone device following the failure of its pioneering mobile email service, which resulted in four days of outage across the world. The dreadful Malaysian Airlines catastrophes that befell two of its aircraft, although no fault of the company itself, sent its reputation into a nosedive. These two object lessons demonstrate that reputation as a topic is clearly one that can’t take a back seat.

Reputation has been described variously over the years and measured and managed using a number of different approaches. Because of this, identifying an organisation’s or brand’s exact reputation can be difficult to assess in view of the disparate pillars that come into play.

While some researchers would argue that reputation is hard to measure because it is  a subjective quality, some theorists have developed appropriate techniques to measure an organisation’s perception. One promising model is found in a book titled: ‘Rethinking Reputation.’ In it, the authors describe a comprehensive model that considers reputation to be a function of performance, behaviour, communication and identity. By assessing each of these elements, they say, one can determine where a company stands and what shapes its reputation. Let’s look at briefly at what this reference guide says about these four elements:

 

  • Identity: A company’s identity can be attributed to what it has to offer. Using public relations to communicate a company’s identity can be essential in improving its reputation. Organisations should rely on their identity and determine what competitive advantage they have to create a unique image that will improve their standing. If they don’t do this, their offerings will be unable to be differentiated from those of other key players in the market.
  • Performance: Companies can also have their reputation evaluated according to their financial performance. Various elements should be included in calculating a company’s financial health, with long-term goals and growth plans taken into account.
  • Behaviour: Behaviour can be considered to be a company’s internal and external standing. How key stakeholders view the company is the most crucial part of this aspect. Companies should determine how the media, stakeholders and the wider public construes the organisation as a whole to understand how it should moderate and focus its behaviour.
  • Communication: Organisations have been using communication strategies for many years to boost their image in a number of ways, such as by launching awareness campaigns across numerous platforms. Communication is crucial to improving a company’s image and particularly helpful in steering away from misconceptions and rumours.

 

So how valuable is a company’s image? It is invaluable. A good reputation is essential to a company’s growth and prosperity. Communication in this instance should be continuous and engaging.  With new elements available in PR, organisations today have more opportunities to tell their client’s stories and build their reputations.