Strong corporate reputations require active governance and long-term vision.
Stefano Cini, Managing Director of Reputation Institute in Italy echoed this sentiment when he recently announced the ranking of 2018’s most reputable worldwide companies in Italy. The event, annually held at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, is attended by Fortune 1000 executives and reputation leaders from around the globe.
To achieve a top-ranking reputation among companies like Ferrero, Ferrari, LEGO, Amazon, and Armani, Cini explains, a company must actively manage its corporate reputation. “Earning a strong reputation,” he says, “requires constant commitment and consistency.”
Easier said than done, perhaps, but according to RI’s recent Reputation Leaders Study, 67% of those professionals surveyed report that reputation is a high priority for their company. Another 72% say reputation a critical key performance indicator. Yet only 36% say they are ready to proactively manage reputation.
To help, Cini incorporates what RI has learned from monitoring and measuring top-ranking companies around the globe plus insights from RI’s inaugural CEO RepTrak®.
He recommends three ways corporate communication and marketing executives can begin pushing the needle on reputation at their home companies:
- Take a stand.
Companies that take a stand on socially relevant issues, particularly ones that are consistent with the business at hand, or that have established corporate social responsibility programs earn stronger reputations that those that do not.
- Unleash the voice of the CEO.
CEOs who act responsibly, behave ethically, and genuinely care about social issues drive greater stakeholder support. “Fence-sitters” – low-profile CEOs who could sway in the direction in supporters or detractors – tend to create pockets of indecision that can be dangerous to the companies they lead.
- Appoint a Chief Reputation Officer.
A prioritized, central, and interdepartmental executive, a Chief Reputation Officer (CRO) can define strategies to govern and proactively protect a company’s reputation while advising on insights in the event of a crisis. A CRO who is aligned with top-level management has access to key stakeholder data (consumers, investors, employees, policy-makers) and analysis tools, the technical and statistical skills to interpret the data, and the ability to make recommendations that promote the company’s narrative in favor of a strong reputation.
Reputation Intelligence – the Journey to Reputation Readiness
Corporations recognize that reputation matters, but proactive management and long-term strategy are the missing pieces. Reputational risk is lurking and, without proper preparation, it can be the downfall of a company during an unforeseen event or public relations crisis.
Reputation intelligence is the result of monitoring, measuring, and managing reputation. Stefano Cini expresses that the magic is found in the day-to-day work; the slow and steady grind toward a strong reputation. The top 10 or even 100 most reputable companies in Italy or in the world are not overnight reputation successes. It takes time and dedicated work, but it can be done.
[Editor’s Note: A version of this article was originally published in Largo Consumo, June 2018]
Managing Director, Italy