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:
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.