April 2014

Successful organisations are getting emotional about reputation.

Starbucks, Pearson, FT.com and EDF Get Emotional About Reputation

Successful organisations are getting emotional about reputation. 

We refer not to their state of mind, but to the aspect of stakeholder perceptions to which they are currently paying most attention.

At a summit with leading reputation professionals yesterday, we were delighted to see that emotion was king.

“Communication is not about facts, it is about hearts and mind” said Gareth Wynn, of EDF referring to the importance of mining data to understand stakeholders.

“Emotion comes first,” said Meredith Bell of Starbucks.

“Content should give an emotional gift,” said Brendan O’Grady of Pearson.

“We want people to feel something, emotion is an incredible part of engagement,” said Robert Shrimsley, Managing Editor of FT.com.

Just as anger, disgust and contempt plays a clear a role in reputation risk, the role of positive emotions such as delight and happiness is as powerful in reputation enhancement.

Here lies the challenge for true reputation professionals.

Creating emotional content is not nearly enough.

Mine big data for emotion

Firstly, as Gareth Wynn of EDF stated, “mining data for word of mouth” is vital, it sets the context for your communications and for the reputation ambition.  Mining data for emotion - such as our Reputation Tracker - provides a whole new level of insight to inform strategy.

Create emotional content that supports business strategy 

Emotional content should resonate with stakeholders, provide them with a sense of belonging and leave them with a feeling, not just fact.  At the same time every piece of communication is designed to support business strategy.

Gaining emotional buy-in from the board

The asset of reputation involves emotion.  Reputation risk can be predicted, prioritised and prevented through monitoring negative emotion.  Positive emotion is a key driver in enhancing reputation.  The need is to gain acknowledgement at board level of the relationship between emotion and reputation.

No emotional gap between what you ‘say’ and what you ‘do’

Emotions come from within a person. They are honest and can rarely be faked.  It is emotion that should drive actions.  So the emotions, not just the ‘actions’, of all staff - from board members to baristas must be given attention as they will affect reputation. Our RepCoach and RepPro Reputation Coaching programmes support teams, individuals and organisations in aligning personal with professional approaches for high performance.

Align external and internal emotion

Utter transparency means being on the inside what you claim to be on the outside.  The gap between emotion outside and inside an organisation is shrinking rapidly.  Reputation professionals are now spending more time with internal colleagues to generate genuine emotion and real stories rather than trying to artificially enhance external perceptions through marketing and spin.