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Article citation: Terry Hannington, (2011) "How to Measure and Manage Your Corporate Reputation", Strategic Direction, Vol. 27 Iss: 8, pp. -
This book considers the importance of brand and reputation and the author presents each of these terms, how they are used and the distinction between the branding and the reputation in an organisation. Whilst the brand is who you are, the reputation is how you are perceived, viewed by your stakeholders, media and your environment.
The 11 chapters give a diverse presentation of the concept of reputation ranging from how it affects the success and future of a business, to understanding it and managing it. Like personal reputation, corporate reputation is built over time and should be preceded by a global 360° mapping of the stakeholders’ influences. It should also be preceded by careful identification of strengths and weaknesses and an objective analysis based on facts and scientific research rather than on hunches, assumptions and feelings.
Chapter five focuses on the prerequisites for success in measuring and managing the reputation of an organisation. This depends primarily on the commitment of the executive team, their understanding of the aims and objectives of the measurement process and appreciation of the influence of reputation on the future of the organisation. It also highlights the role of communication in managing reputation and the importance of communicating clearly the organisation message and story.
The next chapter presents ways and methods of how an organisation can be researched using questionnaires and interviews to elicit information and facts about its corporate reputation and map out its stakeholders and determine how they affect that reputation.
Chapter seven presents the common issues the research on reputation has revealed and some methods of effecting performance improvements by building the right levels of energy and commitments. Some key issues are addressed such as customer and staff expectation mismatch, the corporate messaging, plans for managing crises and the media. The sales process is equally important and the sales team should be aware of the results of any research on the organisation reputation. The sales team should be carefully managed and adequately supported to contribute more effectively to any required change for a more positive reputation building and hence to success. Once the research results are known and have been communicated, the next chapter presents the key elements in building a plan to rectify any shortcomings and how to implement it to improve the organisation reputation. Such elements include building the commitment of the executive team and middle management, the role of leadership and setting realistic expectations.
Chapter nine addresses the impact industry analysts can have on the reputation of an organisation. They effect an organisation reputation and are often regarded as key influencers and excellent vectors for negative or positive infectious history. It is therefore essential that industry analysts, like other stakeholders, are mapped out to identify those who impact most an organisation reputation. This should consequently enable the organisation to prepare a coordinated action plan across all the stakeholder groups, the internal as well as the external influencers.
Chapter ten presents a practical case study of a company and how a research programme helped understand the full picture of the organisation and gauge the status of the corporate reputation and branding. This exercise illustrates the importance of using external resources for a more objective assessment and the steps involved in the process, namely mapping out the stakeholders, customers and partners. It also shows how research results are presented, the executive commitment obtained and a road map determined for the implementation of the action plan.
The book concludes with the last phase of a reputation management project, which is monitoring and understanding the evolution of reputation. The building of a sustainable reputation takes time, is an on-going process deserving an iterative regular monitoring. Corporate and personal reputations are hard won and precious assets that dictate our future. They therefore deserve our attention and regular check ups.
The book is a very useful guide and tool to practitioners and managers concerned with corporate reputation, understanding stakeholders’ influence and building a reputation management plan. It is an excellent read focusing on reputation and brand and the relationship between them. Likened to an iceberg, this relationship portrays brand as the visual tip above the surface and reputation as that part that lurks below the surface. Reputation consists of less tangible nor visible aspects and is built over time, to a large extent by infectious history about the performance of an organisation, its culture, marketing, quality of product and service.
Individuals and organisations will benefit from the knowledge and hands on experience presented in the book about understanding and managing reputation. This will help an organisation generate and retain business opportunities by managing better previously unseen barriers. Many examples are given on how organisations spend on advertising to build brand awareness and values even before organisation started and the importance of setting up a number of management programmes to manage reputation, crises, stakeholders.
Gower, Aldershot, 2004, 101 pp.
Reviewed by: A.K. Bensiali, Aston University, Birmingham, UK.
This review was originally published in Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 32, No. 1, 2011.