Reputation Management - Aligning Internal & External Communications


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The boundaries between internal and external communication are blurring. All stakeholders are now able to have conversations through a wide range of social technology platforms. So how can you ensure that the reputation of your business is portrayed positively in what is fast becoming a 24/7 business environment?

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Reputation Management - Aligning Internal & External Communications

  1. 1. Aligning internal & externalcommunications for reputationaland competitive advantageReputation Management ConferenceSydney, 31 August 2011Clayton FordSenior Manager, Centre for Corporate Public Affairs
  2. 2. What is a good reputation worth?§  Command premium prices for products§  Pay lower prices for purchases§  Entice top recruits to apply for positions§  Experience greater loyalty from consumers and employees§  Have more stable revenues§  Face fewer risks of crisis§  Given greater latitude to act by their constituentsSource: Fombrun, 2008Page § 2
  3. 3. The value of good reputation “Companies with good corporate reputations do better over time. Their reputational capital can be 55% to 85% of a corporation’s market value.”Source: Fombrun, 2006Page § 3
  4. 4. Reputation or legitimacy gap The size (and impact) of the legitimacy gap between perceived organisational values, activities and performance and stakeholder and community expectations is referred to frequently in Australia and Europe as the ‘reputation gap’ Organisational Legitimacy Stakeholder / performance / Gap community activities / practices expectations (perceived or real)Page § 4
  5. 5. Comcast asleep on the job…Page § 5
  6. 6. Target make themselves a target…Page § 6
  7. 7. Domino’s falling over…Page § 7
  8. 8. Habitat making a hash of it…Page § 8
  9. 9. United tuning out…Page § 9
  10. 10. Common factor? Internal / employee behaviour §  Not triggered by external forces (events, NGOs etc.) §  Companies’ own employees shooting them in the foot §  Not solved simply by a social media guide or code of conduct §  Gaps between internal and external perceptions of the brandPage § 10
  11. 11. Attributes of a good reputation Credible Reliable Corporate Reputation Trustworthy ResponsibleSource: Fombrun, 2008
  12. 12. Seven dimensions of corporate reputationPage § 12
  13. 13. Employees an essential element Employees ARE your brand •  One of the most trusted information sources about an organization •  Main contact point between internal & external environments •  Communicate real company values through their behaviour •  Boundaries between employees & consumers is blurringPage § 13
  14. 14. Informal corporate identity§ Corporation identity rarely emerges solely through planned communications§ Corporate identity is communicated informally & unconsciously through daily routines & behaviours -  Unplanned behaviour as compelling in communicating identity§ As stakeholders become more sophisticated, less likely to rely on planned communications as a means of interpreting a firm’s business activities -  A conscious choice to judge unconscious behaviours -  Amplified via social mediaSource: Otubnajo, Amujo, Cornelius (2010)Page § 14
  15. 15. Putting the corporate into corporate branding§  Globalisation driving companies to differentiate by positioning the corporation, not just products§  Exposes entire organisation to scrutiny of everyday behaviours -  Transparency amplified via social media§  Whole organisation focus requires whole organisation response -  Not sole preserve of marketing or communications departments -  C-suite, HR, Finance, IT, Sales all involved§  Three key elements -  Vision, Culture, Image§  Most successful corporate brand connects strategic vision & (real) organisational culture Source: Hatch & Schulz ( 2001)Page § 15
  16. 16. The six Cs of corporate marketing CHARACTER (Corporate identity) “What we indubitably are” CULTURE COMMUNICATION (Organisational identity) (Corporate communication) “What we feel we are” “What we say we are” CONSTITUENCIES CONCEPTUALISATIONS (Marketing & stakeholder (Corporate reputation) management) “What we are seen to be” “Whom we seek to serve” COVENANT (Corporate brand management)Source: Balmer (2006) “What is promised and expected”Page § 16
  17. 17. Corporate marketing as a philosophy “…we regard corporate marketing as more of a philosophy rather than a function. …the mix of elements should be seen as informing an organisational-wide philosophy rather than as encompassing a mix of elements to be orchestrated by a department of corporate marketing. In essence, the philosophy of corporate-level marketing should permeate how people in the organisation think and behave on its behalf.”Source: Balmer & Greyser (2006)Page § 17
  18. 18. Coordinating corporate communications “Projecting a firm’s image is not the exclusive responsibility of the public relations or advertising practitioners…everyone who comes into contact, directly or indirectly, with any of a firm’s publics contribute pieces to a mosaic. Whether or not the pieces form a comprehensible total picture depends upon the degree to which the firm’s corporate communications are coordinated.”Source: Bernstein, 1994Page § 18
  19. 19. Case study – Southwest Airlines Sources / modes of msgs Employee’s Outcomes Psyche INTERNAL Brand Formal position - HR / PR Knowledge Desired Employee Mission & Informal of desired Turnover brand brand Values - Culture brand image image image - Leaders Satisfation EXTERNAL Loyalty Formal Covenant / - Advertising contract Reputation Informal - Feedback FeedbackSource: Miles & Mangold, 2005Page § 19
  20. 20. Case study – Singapore Airlines§  Core promise is in-flight experience, embodied by ‘Singapore Girl’§  Aligned internal & external branding achieved via: -  Internal communication -  Led by ‘People Networks’ Department -  Based on mission & key corporate values -  Print, online, mass & tailored -  High number of face-to-face channels, with senior leaders -  Infusing corporate values -  Relentless focus, -  4 different touchpoints – induction, training, corporate events, communication channels -  Evaluation & performance management -  Cabin Crew the crucial touchpoint -  Very selective recruitment -  4 months intensive training, then ongoing -  Role play other roles (eg pilots, ground staff)Source: Chong (2007)Page § 20
  21. 21. 6 steps to strategically aligned behaviour1.  Provide clarity about the behaviour expected2.  Integrated focused change process, starting at top management levels, showing commitment to clear vision3.  Consistency is key across management role modeling behaviour and corporate communication (internal & external)4.  Execution takes employees’ needs seriously, such as capabilities and flexibility to deliver, evaluation, feedback5.  Measure and track alignment or gaps systematically6.  Combine internal motivation programs with external campaigns using same corporate story – stimulate internal audiences to provide proof points in daily behaviour Source: Riel ( 2008)Page § 21
  22. 22. Living the brand “…up to 40% of the marketing investment is said to be lost when employees do not deliver on the organisation’s promises to clients. …when employees understand and accept that the values are genuine, they align their attitudes and behaviours to the brand values, which results in greater satisfaction for both customer preference and loyalty.” - Gapp & Merrilees (2006)Page § 22
  23. 23. Competitive benefit “When brand expectations and culture clash, the effects can devastate a business. When brand and culture match, the effects can devastate the competition.” - John R. ChildressPage § 23
  24. 24. Do You Have Questions?Page § 24