The first Monday in May isn’t just any old Monday. If you’re like me, you live for the thrill of staying up all night, watching celebrities pose in avant-garde haute couture. You deliver scathing commentary on off-theme attendees like you’re the editor of Vogue. You search for the story in every outfit. What am I talking about? It can only be the Met Gala.

From a reputational standpoint, the Met Gala is fascinating. A large number of people don’t understand its purpose, because the dominant focus is on the red carpet. Yet, it’s often described as the event of the year. To answer the burning question, it’s just a fundraising dinner – but how is it that an event which is often misunderstood is so coveted and highly esteemed? The answer lies in crafting a reputation based on strategic exclusivity, whilst drawing attention to fashion that is often enhanced by technology.

Is the Met Gala high fashion? No, it’s high tech

Admittedly, technology is not what springs to mind when I think of the Met Gala (Tyla’s dress crafted out of literal sand for the 2024 event, however, definitely is). But, in reality, technology has always played a role.

A few examples immediately spring to mind: the 2016 event – aptly titled “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” – saw Claire Danes dressed in a ballgown that lit up in the dark; in 2019, both Nina Dobrev and Jourdan Dunn wore 3D-printed mini dresses; and this year, tech tycoon Mona Patel accessorised her gown with sleeves of animatronic butterflies – as you do.

It seems that the Met Gala isn’t just an ode to fashion. It’s an ode to technology’s influence on fashion, and it goes further than just the event. For example, the Met’s latest exhibition is highlighting how technology has been used to preserve delicate historical fashion – not to mention the creation of a customised AI chatbot courtesy of OpenAI. But whilst technology is used to help draw welcome attention, there’s no denying that the Met Gala cultivates a sense of ultra-exclusivity, and this has a huge impact on its reputation.

No paps, please

The Met Gala is both one of the most photographed events in the world, and one of the most secretive. Guests are strictly forbidden to post anything that goes on behind the Met steps, and only a handful of highly curated glimpses are presented to us via Vogue’s social media.

However, it’s no surprise that the Met Gala wants to be perceived as an exclusive event. Firstly, it exudes an obvious sense of glamour and mystery, which only a handful of ultra-high-profile people can experience. Secondly, the regular person can only know so much about the event – information is a luxury. And this is purposeful, to allow the event to remain elusive.

If every minute of the Met Gala was posted and circulated online, it would likely alter the reputation – and illusion – it has carefully constructed over the years. The reality is that it’s no different to any other sit-down charity dinner; this one just has more famous faces. So, by welcoming media attention on the red carpet, and keeping everything else under lock and key, the event’s mysterious public image stays in-tact.

So, the Met Gala’s reputation is primarily shaped by its desire to remain exclusive, but there are evidently other forces at play. The resulting impact is an interesting dichotomy, and I do wonder if we’ll ever get to see a real look behind the curtain in the future. But in the meantime, I’m already counting down the days until the next first Monday in May.

The recent strikes by the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) sent shockwaves through the entertainment industry, but their impact extends far beyond Hollywood.

The strikes began on 14 July 2023 as the actors’ union and AMPTP (the representative body for film and television studios) could not settle on a new contract. This strike also coincided with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike, and so Hollywood was at a standstill until a deal was finalised on 9 November. The actors were fighting for multiple changes throughout the industry, with a key issue being consent over artificial intelligence and increased residuals. AI was also a key sticking point in the WGA strike negotiations, with the eventual deal stating that it cannot be used to rewrite scripts.

But the influence of the strikes extends far beyond bigger pay checks for actors. The strikes, driven by concerns over fair compensation and working conditions, have highlighted broader issues surrounding the relationship between technology (AI in particular) and labour.

Companies across various sectors have been exploring AI applications for efficiency, cost savings, and innovation. However there’s a growing awareness of how the use of AI might be influenced by the evolving dynamics between workers and employers. Fear of job displacement and concerns over worker welfare have created a complex narrative across all industries.

The strikes, and the subsequent deal between all parties, highlight a crucial perspective: the role of AI should be collaborative, working in tandem with human capabilities rather than replacing them. Companies may find it necessary to invest in programmes that equip employees with the skills to collaborate with AI systems, ensuring that technology enhances their productivity. Different industries should use this moment to foster cross-sector collaboration. Sharing insights and best practices on AI adoption, ethical considerations, and workforce integration can lead to a more harmonious and responsible approach to technological advancement.

The ethical use of AI is a growing concern for both the public and industry leaders. These strikes further stress the importance of aligning AI adoption with social responsibility. Companies may now be more inclined to evaluate the impact of AI on their employees and society at large, taking steps to mitigate negative consequences.

The SAG-AFTRA strikes, while rooted in the entertainment industry, reverberate across sectors and countries as a reminder of the complex relationship between technology, labour, and societal values.

We often consider translation to be at the heart of communicating across borders and Pan-European PR. You take a piece of content in one language, often English, and translate it into another – French, German, take your pick. But then, what happens when a word isn’t translatable? And what about local cultural context?

A viral clip of an Irish rugby coach leading La Rochelle through France’s Top 14 competition got me thinking about this very topic. For leaders, and the organisations that they represent, translation is often just the first step of a longer journey. So, how can tech companies build upon translation with a full-scale pan-European PR programme that truly delivers on local needs?

Take translation a step further with localisation

It’s incredibly explicit, so I won’t link the video here, but Ronan O’Gara’s Franglais team talk is one of my favourite comedic examples of the value of localisation. Despite a heavy Irish accent, he goes to the trouble of localising the most important parts of his team talk into French. These are top tier rugby players, many of whom play internationally – they probably know the English equivalent of adversaire (it’s opponent, before you find yourself on Google Translate). Yet, O’Gara makes the effort, and I’m sure he gains significant respect from the team as a result.

It’s a similar situation for Anglophone leaders and organisations looking to make their mark in a territory with a different native language. Directly translating content from English into a target language is rarely enough; linguistic subtleties and local context are crucial. For instance, did you know that in French copywriting, conclusions should avoid summarising the article, and instead bring something new to the table? These nuances may seem minor but can go a long way in winning over local audiences and journalists.

Shout about local successes

However, Pan-European PR programmes are about so much more than content. Localising press releases and thought leadership articles is crucial, but every element of reputation shaping can and should be considered.

Global organisations should consider the following to make a local impact:

  • Customer advocacy: Harnessing customer champions can be incredibly effective in winning the trust of local stakeholders. These stories demonstrate how a global brand is having an impact locally, which is especially important in European markets.
  • Leadership branding: Local executives should be seen as thought leaders in their industry, to highlight the investment that an organisation is making in a territory. Speaking opportunities at local events, establishing a consistent LinkedIn presence, and engaging with press are key elements of a leadership branding programme.
  • Consistent pan-European communications: Especially for brands launching in Europe for the first time, it can be difficult to balance the nuances of each country with regional consistency. Working with a network of local PR partners, and encouraging collaboration, can be an effective way to ensure that the overall message is never lost or worse, misconstrued.

Creativity and consistency are key

Whether you believe that O’Gara’s approach to coaching is effective or not, we can all agree that it’s creative. Stepping beyond translation to a pan-European PR programme requires similar elements: creativity, an understanding of the local context, strong leadership and PR partners on the ground.

Want to learn more about strategic communications in Europe? Read our recent whitepaper on the European tech scene to discover the growth opportunities that the region can offer.

Now, usually, over-dramatised docu-series about global superstars telling the world of how tough their lives actually are behind the scenes is not usually my bag. However, as a football fan and as someone who grew up in the 90s, curiosity got the better of me and I watched the recent Beckham documentary in its entirety.

Much of the series is based around the Beckhams, both individually and collectively, and their efforts to shape their reputations – both at the time and in the present day. When you think of 90s British culture it is inescapable to not think of David Beckham, Victoria Adams, and then Posh and Becks. They rose to the absolute pinnacle of British cultural life, meaning their reputations were under unrelenting scrutiny for the best part of two decades.

So, what lessons can Beckham Inc. teach us from a business reputational standpoint?

Times have changed

There are a few other images that are more representative of the 90s than a swarm of paparazzi hounding prominent people in the public eye as they go about their daily business. In this pre-social media age, newspapers ruled the roost. People went down to the local shop to get their daily newspaper, complete with some clever (and many not so clever) headline puns slapped on the front page. However, social media platforms are now the town square. This means that it is not just the journalist and editor of a story that can throw in their two cents, or the photographer who can capture a moment – but the whole world.

To be fair to the Beckhams, being under intense media scrutiny in the 90s, didn’t look that fun. However in today’s age, where anyone you pass in the street has a high-res camera and ability to speak to the world, this could be argued to be worse. Even more of their trips to the shops, drive to school, or dinner at a restaurant would have been broadcast to the world almost constantly.

From a business point of view, this additional scrutiny has put a much great emphasis on the managing of a positive reputation. In the past, all manner of reputational issues that were public may not have made it into mainstream public discourse, whereas now the game has changed. This means that businesses must be aware and cognizant of their every action, always keeping reputation management at the forefront of their minds.

You have to back it up

Reputations can be made up of lots of different factors. For example, if David Beckham wasn’t exactly a looker, then perhaps his rise to the top would not have been achievable, but none of this works without substance behind it. Fundamentally, David Beckham was a great footballer. The documentary covers his explosion on to the scene when he scores from the halfway line in a match early in his career – an almost unprecedented feat. His continued rise through the Man United ranks turned him into one of the best midfielders of his generation.

For Victoria it is similar, especially nowadays. Clearly, being part of one of the most successful groups of our time played a big role in the early days. However, she was never considered a world-leading singer – I think of Ali G’s joke when interviewing the pair, ‘Does Brooklyn want to grow up to be a footballer like his dad, or a singer…Like Mariah Carey’. But what has truly propelled Victoria’s reputation since her Spice Girl days is her move into the fashion world. Now the owner of a hugely successful brand, and a leading figure in the fashion world, Victoria has by many metrics surpassed David’s success from a business and monetary point of view.

This is the same in business. Although branding, marketing, communications, image and every other facet of a business’ perception are incredibly important, fundamentally no business can succeed without a great product or offering. It is important that our reputations are built on solid foundations, otherwise when the going gets tough, a reputation may not be able to survive.

Reputations can come crashing down in an instant

Take Beckham’s infamous kick at the 1998 World Cup – getting him sent off, before England went on to be knocked out on penalties by arch-rivals Argentina. Headlines the next day included, ’10 brave lions, and 1 stupid boy’ – a headline that might belong in the ‘not so clever’ camp mentioned earlier. The media attacks were vicious and went on for weeks. He was booed at every stadium he went to, hounded in the street and it was hard to see how he could come out from underneath. His response was to rely on his famed right foot. By focusing on football, and continuing to show his immense talent, he eventually got redemption; not by some clever PR stunt, or grovelling apology, but by scoring the freekick in the dying stages of a match against Greece, allowing England to qualify for the World Cup.

And this for me is where there is a key learning. In the business world, if a reputation takes a hit, of course there will need to be a communications strategy to begin healing the damage. However, one of the best things that can be done is to focus on the core business that got them there in the first place – ensuring that it focuses on its key people, customers and stakeholders. By focusing on rebuilding trust with these people, businesses can rebuild wider trust and move forward.

Oh and finally, David Beckham is a beekeeper. Who would have thought?

As we know, AI has been all the buzz and communicators have been scrambling to figure out which tools are best to use to integrate into their workflows as well as the rules of engagement. There is a flood of information on the various tools at our disposal and rapid advancements have placed governments in a race to regulate AI.

The debate also rages on about whether AI will indeed contribute towards productivity, replace jobs and so forth. But have we stopped to think about the impact AI could have on our curiosity – a key characteristic of any communicator worth their salt.

A narrow view of AI

A few months back, I attended a PRCA conference and one keynote address by Paul Spiers, Founder of The New P&L – Principles & Leadership in Business®’ Podcast Series & The New P&L® Institute,  really put this into perspective for me. In his talk, titled ‘Are we outsourcing our curiosity to an algorithm’, Paul outlined a powerful paradox – we have access to more information than ever before, but because of our search history, the algorithms feed us a narrow view of the world, compromising our curiosity. The concern? Entertainment over inspiration, information over knowledge.

As communicators, we have to dig deeper into a story to unpack the key essence of our client’s brand or offering in order to capture imaginations, make it relevant for our client’s audiences and in the process shape our client’s reputation. By relying on an algorithm to deliver our inspiration we run the risk of narrowing our scope of inspiration, turning us inwards and not outwards. We need to ensure that we use AI and any other technology to drive our natural sense of curiosity instead of diminishing it.

Curiosity, Creativity, Innovation

Did you know that three of the top five skills needed in business are based on curiosity? Analytical thinking, creative thinking, curiosity and lifelong learning.

Curiosity is ultimately the basis of our expansion of knowledge and empathy of others; it drives creativity which in turn drives innovation. As Paul notes, seismic challenges in society offer tremendous opportunities to rethink the way we live and do business and all of this relies on curiosity. “The ability to determine the future of business relies on the levels of curiosity needed to imagine it,” says Paul Spiers.

Creative Courage

An interesting insight from research by The P&L Institute is that many people in the creative and comms industries feel that they’re losing their creative courage. Clearly, we need more diversity to open it up, to grow and to do this we need to become more intentional about our curiosity.

These are just some of the ways businesses can commit to more conscious curiosity:

  1. Commit to the moment, in the moment
  2. Create a process for capture and curation – tap into intergenerational opportunities to share knowledge
  3. Look at old ideas with fresh eyes
  4. Start with each other
  5. Listen, ask, listen, repeat
  6. Build cultures of curiosity

Some may argue that ‘Curiosity killed the cat” but as bold communicators and reputation shapers we’re tossing that old proverb out the window. We need to continue to think more consciously about how and why we engage with technology and pick out the best bits to support our skills and imagination.

So, let’s draw a line in the sand today and commit to our curiosity first!

This summer has been plastic fantastic as Barbie-mania swept the world. The self-titled film has grossed over $1bn, cementing director Greta Gerwig as the only woman in history to have directed a billion-dollar film and inspiring the portmanteau ‘Barbillion’. Of course, this iconic doll has never needed an introduction – her reputation has always preceded her.

Barbie is a cultural phenomenon, but her public image hasn’t always been favourable – historically, she has been criticised for promoting unrealistic beauty standards. With her legacy spanning over sixty years, reshaping Barbie’s reputation was no easy or small feat. Yet, the film didn’t just manage to achieve this; it completely upended the public’s perception of what she represents. By boldly acknowledging the past, and renewing her powerhouse brand with new messaging, Barbie’s reputation as we knew it was transformed.

A Barbie-licious Trojan horse

Strong brand imagery speaks for itself, and as the film’s promotion began, Barbie’s image seemed to be as bubblegum pink as ever. Plastering her brand everywhere – and generating those associated feelings of childhood nostalgia – was the hook to begin reshaping her reputation; nothing was pink without purpose. A real-life Malibu Dreamhouse and a Pink Burger were two of the endless collaborations that sparked Barbie fever. It was even reported that the amount of pink paint used in the film’s set designs caused a worldwide shortage.

With the public’s attention captured, trailers and clips were phased in teasing surprisingly feminist messaging as Barbie journeyed from the matriarchal Barbieland to the patriarchal “real world”. In interviews, cast members highlighted how Barbie was originally made to inspire girls into pursuing careers and financial independence, making her a feminist role model.

Breadcrumbing this messaging was a reminder that Barbie was created as a force for good; maybe the public had been too harsh on her. But a reputation cannot be reshaped by simply sweeping criticism under the carpet. For Barbie’s reputational revamp to be a success, the brand needed to acknowledge its less-than-perfect past.

Addressing the pink elephant in the room

The Barbie trailer featured a surprising message: “If you love Barbie, this film is for you. If you hate Barbie, this film is for you”. When the film finally released, the public flocked to the cinema in their pinkest finery – I, of course, was one of them. The anticipation had reached a fever high, and audiences sat with bated breath.

The trailer’s trace of self-awareness at Barbie’s past reputation unfolded into a full-blown acknowledgement tinged with shock tactics. As she ventures into the “real world”, she believes she has made a positive impact on women’s lives. Instead, she harshly learns of her poor reputation, with teenage character Sasha even calling her a “fascist”.

To spotlight Barbie’s past in such a direct manner was shockingly bold, but like everything else, it wasn’t without purpose. Yes, public perception vilified Barbie – but it wasn’t unjustified. Barbie was created to inspire girls, but she’d missed the mark and her reputation had paid the price. As audiences were wondering how on earth maker Mattel allowed this scene to play out, the film moved into its final phase of her reputational overhaul.

Bringing Barbie to life (literally)

When reshaping a reputation as infamous as Barbie’s, authenticity is non-negotiable. It implies honesty and integrity, and a determination to not have her future impact replicate her past.

Barbie’s emotionally charged pièce de resistance came at the very end: the doll holds creator Ruth Handler’s hands and takes her first breaths, interspersed with a montage of real women and girls. In this moment, Barbie – a plastic and inherently inauthentic doll – is humanised. Suddenly, she is no longer an unreachable idea of perfection; she is just like every other girl and woman. And she is for everyone.

To highlight Barbie’s past reputation without actually doing anything about it would’ve been in poor taste – audiences would’ve been left with the shock factor, but no substance. Instead, the blend of heritage brand imagery and powerful message reverberated through cinemagoers. Barbie had entered a new era.

There’s no doubt that Barbie, and its promotional rollout, were engineered to reshape the doll’s image. The film was somehow everything and nothing like I expected it to be, but it’s no surprise that this gargantuan reputational overhaul was a success. Whilst its long-term impact is yet to be determined, this summer affirmed that, love her or hate her, it really is Barbie’s world – we’re all just living in it.

We all aspire to be savvy buyers, of anything. However, consider how often you buy something you want, but you don’t really need. Or you find the perfect piece but find an identical item at a lower price somewhere else. Or think about a time where you bought something that is clearly the wrong size and can’t be returned.

We’ve all been there, and buyer’s remorse applies to business procurement decisions too. Business investments may not be coming out of your personal pocket but there is still an expectation to be savvy. As you could be dealing with figures that equate to a purchase of a decent car or property, it’s crucial to get it right, especially in these current economic conditions.

Embarking on a partnership with a PR agency is one of those business purchasing decisions that shouldn’t be taken lightly. But how can you be sure you are choosing, or working with, the right-sized communications and PR agency and getting value out of every dollar, pound, or euro you spend on comms?

There are thousands of excellent communications agencies in Europe, of all shapes and sizes. We all have different expertise, strengths, experience and cultures, however the “client/agency relationship fit” is critical in the smooth running of a communications programme if you wish to yield the most impactful results.

A value buy

When searching for a new PR agency partner, quality and price are often the foremost factors under consideration. On quality, it’s imperative to establish whether the people on your team:

  • Have relevant experience and industry understanding.
  • Have solid and relevant connections.
  • Possess unbridled creativity, precision execution and an eye for detail.
  • And are invested in supporting your business and communications goals.

On price, ask yourself whether the service and results expected from the programme tie back to what is needed for your organisation. Basically, do the numbers add up so the spend yields enough impact to make the difference you need?

Style

While a great cultural fit is harder to determine, as much of this decision is subjective, there are approaches you can take to make it more objective.

If you were interviewing new members for your team, what personal qualities would you look for? Consider applying a similar process when selecting an agency team. Engage with each member of the team to feel the strength of connection at every level. 

Also interrogate the agency’s values – do they match up with your company’s values?

The right size

Looking at how your company is positioned on the PR agency roster is another factor to consider when rightsizing your agency choice.  

Few clients want to be the smallest client or to be seen at the bottom of the pecking order. Most clients like to be the biggest or nearly the biggest client – at the top of the pecking order. And even fewer clients like the agency itself to be larger and with more people than their own organisation. For the most part, organisations like to know they will be considered a valued client by their agency – every one of them wants to be the favourite.

If you’re a medium-sized agile business, you may be better off selecting a small or medium-sized agile agency.

If you are a large global organisation on a global mission, perhaps you need the same large global agency representing you in every market where you operate. Be warned though, a large global network is only as strong as the weakest link, so be sure all links individually demonstrate and deliver strength.

Making the purchasing decision

A fundamental benefit of working with smaller agencies is that they tend to pay more attention to detail and are not only strong on developing strategies but also executing against those strategies and seeing the programme through. They are generally more agile and can offer more personalised and bespoke services or solutions.

Other advantages:

  • They sometimes specialise – for example in technology, consumer brands or healthcare –and therefore bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table
  • They offer competitive pricing and value as they’re not weighed down by huge overheads
  • They are often a team of highly experienced consultants that have branched out from larger agencies and run a tight ship. The senior team is hands on and don’t leave the account in the hands of inexperienced consultants  

So when sizing up your options, don’t rule out a smaller agile agency – they may just be hungrier and the fit you’re looking for!

Europe is a fascinating place. Its history, cultural diversity and impact on the globe make it truly unique. And although it has gone through many challenges in recent decades, including some questionable decisions and a surprising election or two, Europe still remains a great place to do business.

It is also a pivotal market for many companies’ global success and for anyone looking to establish a good base for doing business throughout the region it is critical to establish a strong reputation. To achieve this, a comprehensive PR strategy is crucial. However, Europe is comprised of over 40 countries and 23 languages, and subsequently requires a lot of nuanced thought, particularly as it relates to measuring success.

When compared to other markets, such as the US, there are several key things to bear in mind when assessing how impactful your PR efforts in Europe have been, most important of which is to look beyond the numbers.

Population differences

Although in simple terms it may seem that the larger the audience and reach of your content, the better, this is not always the case. It’s true you should always look to maximise the impact of your content, but there are a few important aspects to consider when measuring success. Firstly, if you are used to numbers that can be generated in a market such as the US, numbers in Europe can seem underwhelming. Ensure that you are aware of the size of the markets you are dealing with – the population of the Netherlands for example is smaller than that of New York State.

However, also think carefully about comparisons between countries within Europe. Due to the variety within the region, there can be vast differences in reach between countries – you shouldn’t be disheartened if your figures from outreach in the Vatican City aren’t quite on the same level as those in Germany, for example.

Quality not quantity

Be sure you are putting things in context. Instead of counting pieces and their impressions, develop a scoring system in line with your business goals that focuses more on the quality of your content and its specific impact. Measurements like type, tier, message penetration could be a much better indicator of success compared to straight numbers. Part of this is looking at target audiences in those markets you are focusing on and assessing what opportunities they can provide. For example, a readership of a few thousand people in Sweden, may seem like a tiny number, however if these are business or industry leaders with a very specific interest in your sector, that number all of a sudden looks very appealing. However, beyond that think of what it is you are trying to achieve and perhaps target a specific country for a specific industry or goal – for example, manufacturing in Germany, or financial services in the UK.

Additionally, look into measuring a reusability score. We are all having to look after the pennies these days, and as a result anything that can be done to get the most value out of your work should be pursued. If money spent on a single effort can act as your Swiss army knife, generating press releases, media alerts, commentary, thought leadership and beyond, this can be a great indicator of the overall impact that your strategy is having.

Different markets. Different appetites

Media appetites vary hugely throughout the region – in the same way that fish and chips is not a delicacy in France, nor frogs’ legs in Germany, the media is also hungry for different things. It is crucial to have a good understanding of the cultural differences between countries. For example, in a situation where you have a press release to send out that will be localised in a few key languages and distributed throughout Europe, it could be tempting to directly compare results between countries. However, it is highly likely you will see significant differences in the coverage numbers between these countries, even adjusted for population. For example, media in France and Germany have a big appetite for press releases, whereas the UK media is not so keen, and this will have a big impact on results. Other examples include the French and German media’s preference for local spokespeople and brands, meaning you will most likely see increased competition in those markets and coverage numbers could be lower if you do not have a local flavour.

Clearly, measuring success is a crucial aspect of any effort, especially when dealing with limited time and budget. If you are keen to kick off a PR campaign in Europe, be sure to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach and avoid comparing between countries.

For a small continent, Europe is full of a wide variety of different attitudes, tastes and quirks. To understand them all is an almost impossible task, however a little effort can go a long way. By ensuring that you take the time to understand key differences in media attitudes, specific areas of expertise and potential reach you can maximise your ability to measure success.

Want to hear more? Take a look at our Guide to PR and Comms in Europe.

It’s the month of love, so what better time to take a good look at your PR crush and why you admire them so. I’m talking about organisations, not necessarily PR professionals, but actually there’s always an incredible team behind great PR so it’s good to look at the drivers of the comms engine too.

When speaking to organisations, I often ask the question, ‘who do you admire?’, ‘what is it that they do in comms that gets you excited?’. The answer I get most of the time is, ‘good question, I’ll have to think about that one.’ I don’t forget to go back and ask the question again, because there is so much to learn from what a person says in response to that question – and all the more interesting when it’s an organisation outside their industry.

Could admiration be a reputation measure of success?

Measuring PR impact is a topic continually discussed – it takes many forms and can get a little heated with many differing opinions.

But to use a phrase that doesn’t prompt the nicest visual, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. There are many tools and methodologies to help PRs and marketing folk calculate the impact of PR. The starting point is to determine what’s important to the business and work backwards from there.

A very familiar metric is share of voice, which measures a company’s presence in comparison to a set of competitors. Another often used metric is ‘share of conversation’, which measures a company’s presence in conversations around a certain topic. That’s a great way to look outside of your industry and understand broader points of view and how your company fits in.

I’m adding ‘share of admiration’ to the mix, and this would be measured against companies that you do not compete with, at a sales level, but you may at a reputation level. You essentially benchmark yourself against their reputational strength. To make this measurement a fair comparison, you need to look at universal reputation metrics. This can include:

  • What stakeholders think about the organisation. In terms of products/services, leadership, innovation, sustainability etc
  • How stakeholders feel about the organisation. Assessing the strength of the emotional connection
  • How stakeholders behave towards the organisation. Do they trust the company? Are they an advocate? Are they regular customers?

There are numerous ways to measure these elements, and various sources you can pull from – within and outside your organisation. For comprehensive reputational intelligence, we work with our partner, RepTrak, who have a proven model for corporate reputation management, taking multiple data points and applying its algorithm to create actionable insights.

Whichever way you measure, the most important thing is looking at reputation from all angles. Reputation often feels intangible, but it’s simply the sum total of perceptions and actions, good and bad.  

Why it’s important to look outside your industry

Looking at competitors is important, of course, as you’ll be competing with them on sales which is a key driver for growth and success. Often competitive insight either shows what they’re doing differently (where you may need to play catch-up) or certain aspects where your company may be ahead. However, it can be limiting. By looking at companies outside of your industry, it can help with creativity or ideas that can differentiate your company further, not on a service/product level, but in the way your organisation behaves and engages with stakeholders. Getting out the industry bubble can bring real freshness to a comms strategy, and possibly something your industry may not have seen before.

So, who do you admire?

The current economic outlook is not what we’ve hoped for. With inflation rising to its highest level in 40 years, many businesses are rightly concerned about the future. Even some of the biggest tech companies are struggling with the current economic headwinds. Meta are slashing their hiring plans, while others are being forced to trim their current workforce.

While tough times lie ahead, managing the reputation of your company is a business imperative. After all, brand loyalty driven by a good reputation will keep your stakeholders in your corner, even when the going gets tough.  

Businesses that have made it through pandemics and economic downturns have all had one thing in common – they’ve placed prominence on their company reputation, internally and externally.  

Here are some key actions to consider when looking to create a recession proof reputation:

Stakeholder engagement

Embed reputation management into your company culture, so that your entire organisation is onboard with its importance. After all, the reputation of your organisation doesn’t just exist in the C-suite, it cuts across the entire organisation. For IT, it’s about protecting a company’s assets, no consumer wants their data leaked by a company. Whereas for HR, it’s important to be viewed as a good employer.

Stand out from the crowd

Not every company can be a Tesla or a Meta, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stand out. Most organisations have something worth shouting about. Find what that uniqueness is and leverage  it and use it to connect with your employees and customers. Having a reputation for innovation, resilience, and agility will help engage your stakeholders and create a ‘halo effect’ with shareholders.

Reputation in the round

As well as engaging internal stakeholders, you should think carefully about your reputation in the round, by considering every avenue of your reputation. Your executives, press coverage, share of conversation, among other things, can have an impact on your reputation. There are multiple touchpoints, and you should be addressing each one.

‘Ensurance’ is the best policy Investing in your employees, suppliers, customers, and third parties is crucial and will pay dividends in the long run. Additionally, you should regularly audit internal policies, as well as those of your partners. While this is a laboursome process, it will ensure you’re covering all your bases. Above all, actions speak louder than words, so don’t be afraid to replace out of date policies or end relationships that no longer align with the values of your company or could be seen as harmful to your reputation.

Is it time to shape your reputation?

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