The Reputation Economy
It is often said that we now operate in a Reputation Economy. You can read this in any way you like but, whatever approach you take, you have to consider as a starting point the extent to which the world and all of us have become much more connected by the internet. There is a plethora of Digital and Social Media platforms and increased numbers of us are signed-up to them, professionally and in our private capacity. The line between private and professional is also very fine. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, Instagram, Pinterest and several other such platforms enabling us immediate ‘peeks’ into the lives of others, near and far, and enabling others privileged ‘peeks’ into our lives. These platforms enable news, scandals, and gossip to travel faster than light, in many cases putting traditional media practitioners into serious shame, left to play catch-up.
The relevance of reputation here is that no brand can hide from the preying eyes of its stakeholders. These stakeholders come in complex networks of groups whose interests cut across in all imaginable directions. They watch how brands behave in terms of human rights, green issues, animal rights, socio-economic contribution to communities in which they operate and how, as corporate citizens, they uphold the rule of law. The reputation of these brands is at the mercy of the preying eyes of the world, itself a complex network of stakeholders.
The Need to Be Curious
Given the speed with which news – especially bad news – travels, it is essential that Reputation Managers behave like brand sentinels. They must watch over the immediate (Micro) and broader (Macro) environments in which their brands operate, ensuring that these environments are friendly, receptive to the brand’s messages and conducive for profitable business conduct and/ the generation of goodwill. The gaze of Reputation Managers must stretch far.
The traditional ‘Protect Brand Reputation’ (80%) and ‘Enhance Brand Reputation’ (20%) divide must be reversed. The strategic role of Reputation Mangers should be stacked-up with proactive activities ranging from environmental scanning, provision of advice on how to avoid potential threats to brand reputation, taking advantage of opportunities that arise; creating opportunities (soft landing pads for brand messages) by planting positive seeds that will mitigate potential attacks to brand. Brand Reputation Managers cannot be effective in this task if they do not ask questions and monitor stakeholder conversations relevant to their brands.
Upstream Integration; Downstream Delivery
To be effective, Brand Reputation Managers have to be structurally integrated at executive and senior management levels of their organisations. If not, they have to have dotted lines to the most senior levels of strategic decision making.
Externally, Brand Reputation Managers have to be effectively networked in their field in order to always abreast of new developments and approaches to managing brands.
DonValley’s privileged link to the World Communication Forum in Davos, affords this agency with the kind of top level engagements that the agency requires in order to remain relevant and, in many instances, lead the pack.