Monthly Archives: January 2016

Putting a price on reputation!

The true value of business communications is well-known for being tough to measure, especially in the flinty eyes of accountants who expect to see a clear Return on Investment for their PR spend. But if the goal of your communications is to boost or protect reputation, how do you attach a financial figure to that?

Well, for UK-listed companies alone reputation is worth £1.7 trillion. That’s according to research by BDO LLP and the Quoted Companies Alliance. They spoke directly to businesses and asked them how much they thought their reputation was worth. Based on the impact on sales, share price and employee morale, it found small and mid-cap businesses attach 28 per cent of their value directly to reputation. This compares with the 2015 UK Reputation Dividend Report, which indicated that 30 per cent of the market value of the FTSE 100 is attributable to reputation.

When thinking about reputation meltdown and its impact on business value, a recent example that comes to mind is that of Volkswagen. The company lost about a third of its value (35 per cent) in just two days following what the media imaginatively called ‘dieselgate’. That’s approximately €25bn.

Of course the threat of large scale fines, costly vehicle recalls, private settlements and the shredding of trust and integrity all play a part in damaging the company’s worth. But a huge part is also the impact on VW’s future sales. One study says that for a company involved in fraud, the financial punishment imposed by the market (this means reduced future sales) is 7.5 times greater than the legal penalties they receive.

So, in answer to the initial question, can you put a price on reputation, I guess you can. Time to ask yourself what losing 28-35 per cent of your business would mean for you and your employees.

While you think on that, here are some tips for protecting that valuable reputation:

  1. Have a crisis management plan in place.

When the proverbial does hit the fan, having a plan already in place will help you minimise any impact. In fact, dealing with a crisis well can actually improve a business’ public standing. Try treating the situation as an opportunity. A crisis badly handled can severely damage the financial, operational as well as reputational viability of a business. A crisis well managed can actually enhance its reputation.

  1. Build and boost your reputation on a continuing basis.

Share good news stories and CSR initiatives so that people know the good work your business does. This may determine how people react when a crisis does hit your company. It will also help you develop strong relationships within the media that could become handy when you have not-so good news to share.

  1. Be first, fast and frank.

You can’t always prevent a crisis hitting. But you do have some control over how the media covers the story. Being the first to publically announce it, rather than an unhappy customer, journalist or whistle blower, can help you set the tone. Of course, you also need to be frank and honest. It won’t make a difference being the first to announce the news if you’re found to be dishonest later down the line.

For a final thought, and as our chief executive likes to say, reputation is hard-earned and quickly lost. Be sure to look after it.

Acceleris recently won the ‘Issues and Reputation Management’ trophy at the prestigious European Communications Excellence awards. It is the second time the agency has scooped the award, winning it last in December 2013.

Jack Williams
Jack Williams - Account Manager, Acceleris

Jack Williams – Account Manager

What does 2016 hold for PR?

It’s been so informative reading through the insightful array of peer predictions pinning down industry trends for 2016 on PR Moment. No-one in communications today can deny that there is opportunity in deep, intuitive knowledge of unmissable content, brought to life through an unimaginably diverse and perpetually changing spread of tactical approaches that clients now expect. I can’t be the only person drenched in simultaneous fright and delight thinking of the smorgasbord of widgets at our disposal as it explodes into a stellar galaxy spinning with opportunity. And then explodes a bit more for good measure.

Could 2016 be the last time we see press releases?

Could 2016 be the last time we see press releases?

From the death of the press release (I’m definitely with you on that one @AnnaPRstar) to ‘mobilegeddon’, Google’s search prioritisation for mobile friendly sites (which Jas of @VitisPR believes will ultimately morph into a fully blown propriety OS), the inevitable has come to pass – exploiting patterns of digital adoption will define our future success. Not the tech. Not the channels. But who uses them. And if they keep using them. And trying to spot who will use what, next.

For 2016, I believe technology is becoming simultaneously our greatest strength and potentially, our biggest weakness.

Our greatest strength because of the value in well-placed, enduring and high quality content in creating the sticky paths that lead to conversions and profits.

Our greatest weakness because of the sheer vastness and momentum of change – place a foot wrong and your content will be kicked to the kerb or smashed under the weight of the rest of the traffic on the information superhighway. And yes I’m showing my age there.

My two buzzwords? Adoption and aggregation. More power to the communications professional who can spot where those two are headed.

According to @richard_dobbs, James Manyika and @Jonathan_Woetzel of McKinsey, “It took more than 50 years for after the telephone was invented until half of all American homes had one. It took radio 38 years to attract 50m listeners. But Facebook attracted 6 million users in its first year and that number will multiply 100 times over the next five years”.

Measuring success is more important to PR than ever

Measuring success is more important to PR than ever

What’s remarkable is that now (mostly) everyone has joined the party, we’re at the stage of trying to simplify how people interact with full screens of information from tools and platforms as they grow more complex; at the same time a data deluge gives us knowledge like never before.

We used to log on to a branded site, read why we should get involved and buy direct. Next, price comparison sites brought us the best options from across the market. Where does this aggregation end? I know Uber ratings system for customers has given another side to that dynamic, perhaps we’ll see graded consumers getting different messaging to drive loyalty. Only adoption will tell.

Another of my favourite themes is our enduring (and now totally frantic) obsession with measurement, which according to Bryan Garvie of the BIG Partnership, should now be solid as a rock thanks to the hard evidence provided by digital. Whilst we do have a razor sharp ability to microsegment our audiences based on their behaviours, clicks, comments and tweets, @DeborahCopeland of BT hit on the theme of ‘data landfill’ that still haunts me to this day.

@googleanalytics, @TweetDeck and the measurement tools in @coveragebooks have the potential to become the next AVE if we’re not consistently testing and challenging, so a rigorous approach to data quality when measuring is in everyone’s interest.

I trialled coverage book recently and was instantly mesmerised by its beautiful magic stats, revealed like symbols lined up in the winning window of a one arm bandit.

I’d no idea what wizardry put them there, so as freemium tools nibble at us on a daily basis with their promise of an answer to our endless quest for measurement’s holy grail, we do need to be cautious in using data as they can be perceived as the new stats as far as clients are concerned, massaged to say what we want them to. How efficient we are in comparing different sets of data to build a bigger more robust picture will be an ever-evolving art for our industry.

futureproofAlso, almost overnight, tried and tested methods can be rendered useless if a feature is withdrawn from an aggregate measurement tool for example as happened with Coverage Book and Twitter.

In an industry that prides itself on being one step ahead, dealing with the creative and cutting edge ways in which to do very specific tasks more efficiently and effectively for clients can be unnerving. Yet at the same time sharing and collaborating – our own aggregation – has become essential just to make sense of the volume of information at our disposal and to navigate mutually beneficial paths through.

If digital tech is stellar, the Internet of Things is also going to send opportunity stratospheric. Think designing communications campaigns to include talking robots in people’s homes and you’ll be on the money. Perhaps not for 2016 but I don’t think we’re far off. And copies of #FuturePRoof the ICCO and PRCA’s progressive thoughts on the future of public relations management is available now to make sure we’ve an eye on 2017 and beyond.