Today I had the pleasure of presenting to CIM members and alumni of Northumbria University's Newcastle Business School on the importance of corporate reputation in building a brand. From strategy through to tactics we covered a lot of ground. The main thrust of the talk was that organisations managing their corporate reputation enjoy a stronger profile, build trust with stakeholders and (most critically of all) increase sales.
Some of the points made can be summarised as follows:
- The future is social – how does your organisation engage? You don’t have to be everywhere, just communicating with stakeholders in the right ways at the right times. Think relevance.
- Get buy in from the top. If your PR and marketing objectives don’t align with the business objectives, you’ll never achieve the greatest ROI. Also, the more the Board values PR, the better the budget you’ll secure going forward.
- Data matters. Understand your audiences and marketplace. Only then will you be able to answer who; what; when; where; how and WHY – the backbone of any successful campaign.
- Always set measurement and evaluation criteria at the outset. You need to know what has worked and hasn’t in order to evolve.
- Building a brand is not solely the domain of the comm’s team. Everyone in the company has to buy into your brand values and demonstrate these through the way they behave. If not, the disconnect between customer expectation and experience will be huge and you might as well just go home.
In short, the message was this: the experience customers have with your company, what you say through your PR and marketing and what people say about you all matter when building a brand. If you have a handle on these elements and take a systematic approach to telling your brand story, you are on path to building a credible and sustainable corporate reputation.
Engage effectively with appropriate content and sales will follow. It's as 'simple' as that.