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Risky Business - Reputations online - July08

Risky Business - Reputations online - July08



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Published by Opinion Watch
Research conducted in july 2008 by Weber Shandwick in cooperation with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) about how companies and their leaders are managing corporate reputation in a digitized world.
Research conducted in july 2008 by Weber Shandwick in cooperation with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) about how companies and their leaders are managing corporate reputation in a digitized world.

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Published by: Opinion Watch on Feb 07, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Yet, one challenge that not only endures but alsogrows in importance is managing and protecting companyreputation. Raising this challenge even urther on the lead-ership agenda is the evolving online community. Here, thesound o splintered stakeholders, intensiying media scrutiny,escalating scandals, globalization, and demands or stron-ger economic governance and corporate responsibility hasreached deaening proportions.The Internet’s inuence is sweeping through corporate corridorsand boardrooms, suddenly illuminating beore the public notonly the latest in progress and innovation but also a company’ssecrets. Nearly overnight, many companies transormed romsteel-ramed monoliths to glass houses. Risks that did not ex-ist a decade ago are now on ull display–internal e-mails goingastray, negative online campaigns by dissatisfed customers,and online grumblings (“digital picketing”) rom disenchantedemployees, bloggers and any one else who has an opinionto voice.Online company reputation risks acing leaders are alreadygrowing more complex as new digital platorms–social networks,blogs, virtual realities, Twitter and RSS–rapidly gain acceptance.No digital eraser exists to wipe away company missteps. To-day we are witnessing both the positive and negative eatureso this new era o transparent corporate behavior and instantcommunications: the possibilities or building long-lastingcompetitive advantage coupled with unprecedented threatsto corporate reputation.Global public relations frm Weber Shandwick recognizes thatcompanies need to better understand how to successullymanage their reputations in an always-on and always-openmarketplace. Leaders are increasingly asking questions abouthow they can build, enhance and deend corporate reputationwhen it is continually under siege, and redefned, by onlineand oine communities.On behal o clients and companies worldwide, WeberShandwick commissioned the Economist Intelligence Unit(EIU) to conduct a worldwide online survey o 703 seniorexecutives rom 62 countries. The survey,
Risky Business:Reputations Online 
™, was conducted in June and July 2008.Sixty percent o companies in the sample generated morethan $500 million in annual revenue.This executive summary reveals 15 realities about how companiesand their leaders are managing corporate reputation in a digitizedworld. The 15 realities are ollowed by 15 rules that show businessleaders how to manage company reputation online. For the ullreport, please visitwww.online-reputations.com.
A surey conducted in cooperation with
© Weber Shandwick 2009
Reputation thReat LeveL is high
A striking 67% o top executives regard their company’sreputation as vulnerable. This fnding shows that ex-ecutives clearly recognize the shiting reputational tides thatsurround their companies. Due to heightened economicconcerns since this survey was conducted, this threat levelis likely to rise.
Reputations aRe ReveaLed onLine…But not CompLeteLy
Nearly all executives surveyed – 98% – “use” the Inter-net to evaluate company reputation. However, less than 6 in 10(57%) fnd the Internet “useul” or making fnal judgments.
naivete Can Lead to suRpRise
Most global executives think more oten about theircompany’s reputation than their own. Although they arevery ocused on company reputation, many executives maybe disregarding their own, with ewer than 4 in 10 execu-tives (38%) reportedly doing an online search o their ownnames during the 30-day period beore they participated inthe survey.
LeadeRs need to KnoW
peRCentage oF eXeCutivesWho thinK aBout Reputation“veRy oFten/sometimes”
high/modeRate thReat LeveLto Company Reputation today
   T   H   R   E   A   T   L   E   v   E   L
What…me WoRRy?
CEOs/chairs in particular – a ull 100% – requently thinkabout their company’s reputation. Despite this universalpreoccupation with company reputation, they perceive a lowerthreat level to their company’s reputation than those reportingdirectly to them or below them.They are also much less anxious about online risks to reputationsuch as confdential or leaked inormation appearing online,dissatisfed customers or critics (“badvocates”) campaigningagainst the company, company e-mails or instant messagesbeing used against the company, and employees – current andormer – speaking out critically against the company.
eXeCutives aRe onLine Reputation sLeuths
Nearly two-thirds o executives go online to uncoveractivities o business rivals and partners, product com-plaints and new employment opportunities. It is clear thatexecutives are now staking their claim to a gold mine ocompetitive intelligence within the Internet.
tRaditionaL media outRanKs neW mediaas Reputation ReFeRee
Global executives say that traditional media (television,radio and newspapers) plays a greater role in deciding rep-utational ates than new media (Web sites, blogs and socialnetworks). The study also ound that global executives arefve times more likely to trust traditional media appearingonline as they are to trust strictly online media (72% vs. 13%,respectively). In act, the debate over separate oine and onlinecommunications will eventually disappear as companiesrealize the benefts o integrating all their media. WeberShandwick calls this “inline” communications.
FiRst stop: Company WeB sites
According to 99% o executives surveyed, the leadingonline source or company inormation is the corporateWeb site. Although it may not singlehandedly have the su-preme power to build a positive reputation, the company Website is digital ground zero or reputation-building among theexecutive class.
oLd and neW Reputation spoiLeRs
By ar, the greatest perceived cause o reputation dam-age among global executives is negative media coverage(84%). In today’s distressed economic environment, ew com-panies are escaping media attention about their perormance.
Source: Factiva mentions in global major news and business media (terms: “media” and leak”)
“media LeaKs” in gLoBaL media
1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
   M   E   N   T   I   O   N   S
LeaKs gush dangeRousLy onLine
Global executives regard confdential or leaked inor-mation appearing online as a top risk to their com-pany’s reputation (41%). Their concern is understandableconsidering that in the global media, the words “media” and“leak” appeared together in 6,449 stories in 2008, a 118%increase rom 1998. Clearly, just the tip o the iceberg orinormation leaks.
Reputation assassins aRe haRd at WoRK
Today, the Internet provides innumerable platormsor current and ormer employees to strike, usuallyanonymously, at a company’s reputation. Employee criticism(41%) tied or frst place with leaked confdential inormationonline as the greatest online reputation risk to the company’sreputation. As employees wrestle with declining pensionsand possible layos, reputation bandits will be even harderat work online.Despite high anxiety over potential employee sabotage, onlyabout one-third o executives (34%) know, or admit to knowing(“don’t ask don’t tell”), o a ellow employee who badmouthedtheir company online. Leaders may naively expect that theiremployees are abiding by company principles about theironline activities.

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