Hope for Reputation is Alive

May 02, 2011

Hope for Reputation is Alive

Harris Interactive just released their annual RQ (reputation quotient) survey among the U.S. public.  This is year 12 for the Harris RQ – that’s a long time and underscores the value that this kind of research brings.  Harris conducts the survey among  consumers on what they call the most visible companies in the US along with others that represent major industries. The study starts by asking people to nominate or name the companies that stand out as having the best and worst reputations overall.  The most nominated companies form the core group asked about. For this reason, one usually finds that those companies that have been in the headlines for reputational scandals are measured.  Besides the usual ranking of who’s on first and who’s struck out, Harris identifies several trends: 

  • Among their “elite” reputation winners (i.e. most highly regarded), two reputation drivers stand out – “looks like a company that has high ethical standards” and “tends to outperform its competitors.” Again, this underscores the importance of speaking up and being an industry leader.
  • How companies communicate also drives reputation according to Harris – communicating Sincerely, Accurately and Consistently correlates highly with positive reputation. Transparency and empathy count.
  • An additional theme that Harris highlights is that those companies that “support the infrastrucuture” of Americans’ lives at work and at home also drives positive corporate perceptions.  This means that companies that help people get their jobs done easily at home and at work tend to be esteemed.  Interesting notion.
  • All the major industry sectors saw year over year reputation improvements — particularly automotive.

Of course, there are always clouds and rays of light in any silver lining. And here it is….66% say that the reputation of corporate America is not good but there’s hope for improvement. This figure has not moved much from the 65% who said the same thing last year. So I’d say a solid thumbs down with cautious optimism. However, 22% say the reputation of corporate America is good with room for improvement (up four percentage points from last year).  Not so terrible. A miniscule 1% says corporate America’s reputation is great and can’t get any better (same as last year).  I sure would like to find out more about them to see what they are thinking or or if they are living in the clouds! Thankfully only 12% of the American public say corporate America’s reputation is terrible and there is little that can be done about it.  That’s pretty definitive. So all in all, hope is alive for corporate America and for those of us in the reputation management arena, it is in our hands.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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