Reputation Ranking Mania
Over the past few weeks, there have been several reputation rankings released. I am stunned by the proliferation of rankings on reputation. It is getting harder to keep track of whose ranking is whose and what’s behind the numbers. Whereas there used to only be one or two major reputation rankings, today there are scores. We (my team at Weber Shandwick) knows because we keep track of them every day in our database called Scoreboxx. We must have over 700 primetime corporate rankings that companies can compete on and receive recognition. These rankings fall into broad categories such as corporate responsibility, workplace, diversity, leadership, etc. Years ago, a company only had to worry about Fortune’s Most Admired Companies survey. Now you have to be on the alert for lists that give you a thumbs up or thumbs down.
In the past few weeks, we have seen the release of Harris Interactive’s Reputation Quotient, Reputation Institute’s Pulse Survey and Millward Brown’s Global Brands (BrandZ). All good and “reputable” lists. However, they are all coming out at about the same time and comingling in people’s minds. Years ago when I was at Fortune, we conducted a landmark survey about business readership of business magazines. A few years later, Forbes conducted their own readership survey of business magazines with a twist that confused the marketplace. The two surveys were similar but because many people still confused Fortune and Forbes, Fortune’s competitive advantage was weakened.
My reputation advocate friend Joy Sever is right when she says that all these lists are diluting one another because most people do not understand the differences between them and how the data are gathered. She was right to also say that pretty soon it will all be about the reputation of the reputation rankings. It seems like that has already begun.
The most important way to measure reputation is to take these reputation rankings into account but focus primarily on your own customized research that drills down into your most important stakeholders’ perceptions and most critical reputation dimensions. By tracking your own company reputation vs. competitors over time, reputation-building has its best shot.