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Part I: The 7 Features of a High Performing Business using Reputation Intelligence

By Angelena LeeVice President of Marketing

Reputation intelligence involves using information-rich data, analytics and expertise to support corporate health, stakeholder goodwill, intellectual capital and brand success. These are intangible assets of a company that ultimately impact the bottom-line, drive market value, earnings and create sustainable long-term growth.

The following two-part series looks at high performing companies that have used reputation intelligence over other methods to support their reputation - and how it has given them an edge in the market.

1. Gaining unique insight and answers from alternative data

The challenge: Organisations have employed new technologies to enable their data needs. However, these efforts have been largely focused on aggregating data, not necessarily the right data, and trying to extract insights that are fit-for-purpose. Corporate decision-makers are looking for answers to respond to operational needs, to aid corporate strategy and impact the bottom-line.

Indeed, much of the data that senior leaders currently receive are, by industry standards, inadequate(I) and often focused on financial metrics and projections. Innovative companies that are realising the potential of reputation intelligence, however, have an advantage with alternative data that provides unique insight and answers that are more aligned with business performance and outcomes.

The solution: Alternative data is usually employed in various methodologies and solutions that serve the investment community well.(II) Now, it is helping many CEOs and leadership teams think about data that can drive long-term earnings potential. Reputation intelligence is a relatively new - but important - alternative data source that can support companies with their drive for market innovation and opportunity. As well as protect against the risks that threaten a company’s brand. Early adopters choose to break new ground in the search for data that is differentiated and can provide early indicators of market insight and value. In doing so, they better their understanding of company-specific and industry issues, threats and emerging topics in a rapidly shifting business landscape. Reputation intelligence offers a non-traditional indicator of business performance. It embraces more than just a self-assessment of a company’s own reputation. But it can also comprise intelligence that can improve stakeholder relationships and engagement, sentiment analysis that indicates if a discussion is positive, neutral or negative in tone, and benchmarks for a company to compare itself to peers and industry standards.

[Famously held to account in the Erin Brockovich 'Hinkley' case, Pacific Gas & Electric Co (PG&E), the largest utility company in the US, recently filed for bankruptcy in the wake of the devastating California wildfires in 2018. With $30bn in liabilities, the crisis shows that no industry is immune from volatility that can create huge losses for its investors. In the above analysis, 83% of posts (majority of 12,600+ posts) showed a negative tone in conversation relating to litigations post-disaster. Another 67% of “unhealthy” conversation (majority of 7000+ posts) in online conversations was dominated by “Climate change bankruptcy”. Analysts say that this will become more of a frequent occurrence for major organisations as a result of climate change calamities due to global warming. For PG&E, shareholders, consumers, creditors, and taxpayers as major stakeholders, will continue to suffer financial losses. Offering a forewarning to other utility companies and industries that careful monitoring and management of stakeholder engagement policies will be more of a focus for businesses as environmental concerns take precedence. Source: Polecat Intelligence]

2. Beyond media monitoring, accessing smarter tools for stakeholder engagement

The challenge: Media monitoring and analysis is a traditional method of gauging company performance, still largely based on tracking media mentions. Many companies adopt clippings services that provide a shallow understanding of media coverage and brand presence. The accuracy of such data, trust in the authority of data sources and its relevance and ability to generate true business insight and value, is fundamentally antiquated.

Large, complex businesses require tools that provide a more holistic view of reputation management. Technology that will help them bridge their understanding of the many stakeholders that affect reputation. Employees, investors, consumers, NGOs, local communities and industry participants –and overall broader society- are included in this large group. They are important stakeholders that major organisations depend on to improve their company brand and reputation.

The solution: High performing companies use smarter tools that can accurately pinpoint stakeholder conversations that deliver true business insight. Adopting these tools, decision makers can better understand the reputation impact of different corporate communications and campaigns - and how these affect broader stakeholders. For large-cap businesses with a global footprint, communications professionals can better drive operational efficiencies in reputation monitoring and decision making, by benchmarking company reputation across geographies and markets. These companies also use reputation intelligence to learn about the nuances of local communities and concerns specific to each group. This allows them to deliver tailored communications that engage with communities better and create long-term value for the organisation.

3. Generate a fact-based forecast of future performance

Analytics gives decision-makers the power to "see around corners," and predictive analytics delivers on that potential, according to Tom Siebel, founder of Siebel Systems.

The challenge: Although many CEOs and leadership teams see the transformational qualities and significance of AI(III), further capability and understanding around such technology and its application lie in wait. That said, tech innovations help to forge new thinking and provide opportunities for early adopting, high performing companies. Especially ones that wish to use data and analytics to predict consumer behaviour and mitigate risk.

Innovations in reputation intelligence employ machine-learning algorithms and analytics to help leaders spot trends, process information quicker and uncover unique patterns in data. In this way, the once "fuzzy logic" of reputation management promises more than just advisory services that only leap into action when reputations have been damaged.(IV) Embarking on such an investment, CEOs and leadership teams gain a contextual, objective and quantitative measure(V) of ongoing corporate performance. With tools that balance business, financial and stakeholder outcomes aligned to a company’s overarching strategy for long-term sustainable growth.

The solution: Reputation intelligence is more advanced and forward-looking as it is enabled by technology know-how that can be linked to strategic KPIs. Enabling leaders to forecast and provide more accurate indicators of changes in industry climate and conditions that impact how businesses are performing against their peers. The differentiator for many, will soon be more than an enriched understanding provided through data, but access to information that has utility and is actionable. Information that can strengthen corporate position and enhance future performance.

4. Deliver business critical insights to drive CEO and leadership decision-making

The challenge: As CEOs and leadership teams look to solve real-life business problems a need for technology that identifies, and addresses customer pain points becomes increasingly urgent. But how do leadership teams access relevant data and insights that affect their stakeholders from primary research information that prove as lagging indicators or lack specifics in detail?

As 2019 begins, analysts have speculated that CEOs are still grasping with a number of market uncertainties naming trade conflicts, cyber-security and over-regulation as key issues and topics that are consistently top-of-mind across multiple geographic regions, and impact ease of doing business.(I) How do CEOs then gain an accurate picture of what those threats are to prospects for growth?

The solution: Reputation intelligence and the technology platforms built on the curation of customer-specific topics and issues, addresses this. Allowing for data interrogation from a macro-level perspective to a micro-level analysis when examining specific event activity.

By looking at reputation drivers from Environment, to Business Compliance(VI) companies can identify the root issues driving corporate performance and positive reputation in the market. Through this lens, they can better communicate with impacted stakeholders. With up-to-date feedback via real-time monitoring. In an ever-changing business landscape, the ability to spot crises before they happen or proactively engage with stakeholders underscores the true value of reputation data to inform decision-making.

Reputation intelligence with easy reporting, also disseminates critical insights across an organisation - for board meetings or company-wide intelligence - in an understandable way. Importantly, this is done quickly, simply and is convenient for senior leaders. Assisting in decision making for large and complex businesses with teams that span different countries and markets.

Read more in Part II

Reputation intelligence offers an unparalleled level of insight and reporting to senior leaders and reputation teams. Polecat provides global reputation intelligence for companies around the world. To discuss this analysis further or to gain additional insight, contact us today.

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Endnotes

(I)PWC Annual Global CEO Survey 2019

(II)EY 2017 Global Hedge Fund and Investor Survey, shows a major increase in the percentage of hedge funds adopting alternative data into their investment process.

(III)PWC CEO report, Eighty-five percent of CEOs agree that AI will significantly change the way they do business in the next five years.

(IV)Crisis management as a primary service for reputation management only caters to the damage done not preceding or mitigating risks that may occur.

(V)Reputation and its Risks - HBR https://hbr.org/2007/02/reputation-and-its-risks. When examining the performance capability with stakeholders in the case of assessing reputation, the more contextual, objective, and quantitative the approach to evaluating character, the better.

(VI)Polecat Intelligence proprietary reputation intelligence platform organises reputation drivers according to six different taxonomies – Environment, Social Impact, Innovation, Business Compliance, Business Continuity and Culture.