What is Reputation Research?
In order to thrive in today's ultra-competitive, connected market, companies and brands need to actively monitor and then manage their reputations. This means knowing what those key stakeholders inside and opinion-formers outside the company think of it. It means keeping an informed eye on what the mainstream media are writing and broadcasting about it. And it means making sense of what connected customers, consumers and stakeholders are saying about it. For in the age of social media, brand management is no longer the preserve of the brand manager.
Why should you carry out reputation research?
Companies and brands should conduct reputation research to benchmark how they are performing against market expectations and against competitors. By measuring, monitoring and benchmarking corporate and brand reputation, they can make informed, evidence-based decisions about what they need to do and say differently. Done right, reputation research should inform, define and refine comms strategy and behaviour in the round.
Who uses reputation research?
All sorts of organisations use reputation research. Public, private and third sector. Profit, not-for-profit and education. B2B and B2C. Any and all companies and brands that have a reputation at some level in the public domain. Organisations that have discrete and identifiable stakeholder groups who help to shape opinion and attitude that can impact - positively and negatively - on reputation and performance.
Typical buyers of reputation research include:
- Consumer brands that have lost their sparkle or are challenging for market leadership
- National, international and transnational Government departments seeking to engage and influence their constituency
- Multinational corporations looking to expand into new markets, either creating new categories or entering into hotly-contested space
- Financial services corporations operating in tightly regulated markets
- Academic institutions looking to reposition or consolidate their offering to prospective students
- Companies whose licence to operate can be compromised by misuse, such as the food, alcohol and automotive industries
Buyers come from a range of disciplines, from corporate communications to marketing, investor relations to marcomms, integrated comms to procurement.
How do you get the best out of reputation research?
To get the best out of reputation research, organisations need to abandon fear of what the research may show and empower and encourage their research partner to ask the questions of the stakeholders and opinion-formers that matter. They should enter into the process of commissioning reputation research with an open mind, ready to change, and not just looking for answers that confirm their hunches. Although they will have their preconceptions of what the answers might be, they need to trust in a skilled research partner to unearth the actionable insights that can enhance communications and business performance, even if those insights sometimes bring uncomfortable truths with them.
What are the costs and benefits of reputation research?
Like all genuinely insightful management information, reputation research comes at a cost, though starting with a toe-in-the-water piece of qual research among targeted stakeholders need not be expensive.
The benefits of reputation research can be huge. By correctly understanding and interpreting how the organisation performs on the reputation drivers that matter to its unique group of stakeholders, the leadership can make the informed, evidence-based decisions they need to improve both reputation and performance. Reputation research is about more than just effective communication. Proactively managing reputation leads to improved business performance.
At Echo Research, Ebiquity's reputation research practice and part of the Ebiquity family since 2011, we focus exclusively on reputation research. Through primary market research, in-depth media analysis and cutting through the clutter of social media, we help companies and brands protect, manage and grow their reputation to help grow their bottom line.