April 2017

how to manage corporate reputation

Managing Corporate Reputation In A World of Social Media

Managing and measuring corporate reputation in a connected world of social media is a ‘must do’ for today’s CEOs and leadership teams.

If there is any doubt as to the value of managing reputation well, simply take a look at the news on a daily basis.  In the last week United Airlines wiped $1bn off its company value within a day by forcibly removing a man from an airline.   Over just a few days, from a video footage being taken on a smart phone by a passenger and being released to the media, the company has seen a rapid change in its share price and its leadership has publicly struggled with how best to respond as the story developed.

Here at Reputation Consultancy, we sigh a little every time we see senior leaders in the news who do not appreciate the influence that social media can have on corporate reputation.  We see value needlessly wiped off their organisation’s share price as they fail to realise and fail to respond in a way that protects that value.  It isn’t all bad news.  There is a growing appreciation of the speed and influence that social media can have on corporate reputation; however, a leader knowing what to do about it seems to be a whole other challenge.

Managing and measuring corporate reputation is straight -forward; it just needs to be done.

Corporate Reputation – The Key Facts

  • Any business has a reputation.
  • No business owns its reputation; it can only ever influence it.
  • All those with an interest in it, own the corporate reputation of a business.
  • The strength of corporate reputation is not measured as a number (e.g reputation is 6), nor is it scored in a league table of others.
  • Reputation is a mosaic of 80 indicators, all of which measure the beliefs and perceptions, held about you, by those with an interest in you.
  • It is highly possible to manage and measure corporate reputation.


When its comes to measuring and managing corporate reputation, there are two fundamental questions that CEOs and leaders must know the answers to in order that they are able to respond in a way that protects value and share price.

What is our corporate reputation?

Have we measured our reputation? Begin by understanding what the corporate reputation of the business is, right now and why the business holds that reputation it does. Benchmark it and understand it so that change can be seen.

How does the reputation held, differ from the reputation that it aspires to hold? Have we done the gap analysis in order to notice and prioritise any change?

Knowing how the corporate reputation varies among stakeholders is vital.  While some stakeholders may be perceived to be ‘most valuable’ the perceptions of all stakeholders must be understood and measured.

Seeing how that reputation is changing, the people, conversations and emotions having the most influence is essential management information.


How to manage online reputation and social media.  

It is important to remember that social media is just one channel through which corporate reputation can be influenced.  Corporate reputations are increasingly being played out in a digital space through changes in technology. Even without social media and simply with the ability to record and share video on a smartphone, the United Airlines incident would probably have reached the media agenda just as quickly.

Fundamentally, technology and platforms such as social media are connecting stakeholders and allowing them to communicate, rapidly.  Particularly emotive or emotional content is likely to speed that communication process up still further. This is often one of the greatest risks to corporate reputations.

Managing online reputation is, in part, about social media. The reality is, it is about all digital conversation.


Online Reputation Management Checklist.

When a reputation incident does occur, a leadership team that can answer yes to the following is better placed to protect and manage its online reputation. The list is far from exhaustive.

  1. Have we acknowledged what is happening?
  2. Have we minimised the distress to any individuals or stakeholder group?
  3. Are we responding appropriately and proportionately?
  4. Is there a cross functional team responding to the issue?
  5. Is the CEO or senior leader owning the issues and are they visibly doing so internally and externally?
  6. Do we know how significant this story is online? Is it a storm in a teacup or a significant reputation issue?
  7. Do we understand how this particular issue is affecting our overall corporate reputation standing?
  8. Is this story rising in visibility, negative emotion or our association with it?
  9. Are we striking the correct balance between the sensitivity of stakeholders and business decisions?
  10. Are we communicating to staff in a way that we would be happy should any internal emails be released to external parties?

And there are so many more considerations when it comes to social media. Knowing when and if to take a conversation off line is also key. Sometimes protecting reputation can mean responding on-line and in public in order to support transparency.  

Managing corporate reputation online effectively demands a clear understanding of what the current reputation is and how it differs from that aspired to. Then, when reputation plays out online, through social media or otherwise, a company can measure how that reputation is being influenced and can stand informed with the evidence it needs to make decisions that protect its long-term value.


To know more about managing corporate reputations or measuring reputation then feel free to call Rachel of Steve on 0844 561 0476.  Rachel.griffiths@reputationconsultancy.co.uk or Steve.leigh@reputationconsultancy.co.uk