Are You Competing in the Reputation Economy? - IEDP
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Are You Competing in the Reputation Economy?

"Reputation... oft got without merit and lost without deserving”

Wednesday 05 February 2014

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Brands live or die by their reputation and in our interconnected world reputations can be extremely fragile. The latest thinking on reputation and brand management and the strategies needed to succeed in the ‘reputation economy’ are presented in a top-notch online program from Tuck Executive Education at Dartmouth and the Reputation Institute.

The value of reputation is not a new concept. The difference today is the ability for stakeholders to source opinions, reviews, data and commentaries from across an array of digital services; and doing this in an atmosphere where public trust in corporations has been severely damaged over the past decade by a seemingly endless stream of scandals. The term ‘reputation economy’ suggests a marketplace where businesses and brands are rated, commented on, and judged based on reputation (rather than financial performance).

Reputation is “oft got without merit, and lost without deserving” according to Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello. Maybe at times, but as a rule in a corporate context reputation can be built through strategic communications internally and externally – and maintained by vigilant management and transparency. Even when bad things happen, products are recalled or executives cheat, the discipline of having a reputation management program in place prior to an adverse event will help organizations move through the event with less collateral damage. In some cases, a speedy and honest response will protect or enhance a corporate reputation.

This depends however on having everything is under control when it comes to stakeholder relationship management. Unfortunately, according to the Reputation Institute’s 2013 survey of 300 executives at some of the world’s largest companies, although 79% agreed that we now operate in a reputation economy, only 20% say their company was ready to compete in it.

Nor is reputation management a new concept, but its importance is growing. The Reputation Institute’s research found that all but 17% of respondents to the 2013 survey say their company has begun to take steps to actively manage its reputation. Statoil, the Norwegian oil company, is among a growing number of firms that now “…never makes a move without considering its impact on its reputation.” said Helge Lund, Statoil’s CEO (McKinsey Quarterly March 2013). And in a recent Korn/Ferry survey of Fortune500 Chief Communication Officers 84% said they are giving more attention to providing leadership on reputation, values and culture at their firms.

Interestingly two-thirds of last year participants in the Tuck/Reputation Institute program were from outside the U.S. This was partly because the online format provided global access, but also because the importance of reputation management is growing globally. Paul Remy, a crisis management consultant in Peru, summed-up his experience of the program this way:

“This program is for any leader who wants the tools to develop its corporate reputation as a competitive advantage. Reputation is different than brand; it requires active management in order to get the value from it. The concepts are practical and will benefit my clients in Latin American region immediately.”

The online program, delivered by two of the biggest names in this field: Paul Argenti on reputation management and strategic corporate communications, and Kevin Lane Keller on new brand imperatives, cover topics such as:

  • What it Takes to Win in the Reputation Economy;
  • Build, Protect and Measure Corporate Reputation;
  • Building Powerful Brands.

“For companies to achieve their business goals they need support from customers, investors, regulators, opinion leaders, and employees. In today’s world this has become increasingly difficult because people are disrupting companies when they don’t deliver on their specific needs. Managing this complex new world requires a new set of competencies,” says Reputation Institute’s Executive Partner, Kasper Ulf Nielsen.

“Online learning is an effective way to save execs time and money, while not skimping on impact,” says Clark Callahan, Executive Director of Tuck Executive Education. “I’m thrilled that practitioners from around the globe are taking advantage of the technology to access top thought leaders.”


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