The broad brush of industry reputation

July 06, 2012

The broad brush of industry reputation

I wanted to return to the subject of CCOs. I just spoke via SKYPE to a group of communications professionals in Nigeria about the importance of CEO communications and corporate reputation. As I was preparing, I started thinking again about how useful the information we at Weber Shandwick gleamed from The Rising CCO IV was. This is the study we do annually with Spencer Stuart. One of the factors I mentioned in my talk this morning was how CCOs have to battle perceptions about the industry they are in along with their own company reputation.  When we asked CCOs worldwide what consumer attitudes were impacting their jobs the most over the past two years, their responses can be seen in the chart below. Industry reputation led the list. I have to admit being somewhat surprised. When we compiled this list for the survey, I was thinking that the economy and privacy had to be the biggest issues of the day when it comes to public opinion. The fact that privacy was so low raises the question about whether social media gets us all hyped up about privacy problems or whether CCOs have their heads in the sand when it comes to this particular issue. Not sure. What I do know is that industry reputation needs managing today and just adds another layer to the complexity of the CCO position.  And perhaps this is also why CCOs said that the top quality for success today is crisis management.  Not only do they have to manage their own company’s reputation and that of their CEO’s but they have to look at everything with an industry lens as well.  A crisis that happens to a competitor impacts everyone in the industry.  Today, reputations are painted with a very broad brush. Just in the past week or so, we have seen how the reputation of the financial sector is back squarely in the spotlight.

Consumer Attitudes That Impacted CCO Job Most In Past Two Years


Global CCOs

Toward our industry


Toward the economy and spending


Toward product or quality issues


Toward the environment


Toward big business


Toward the government or politics


Toward privacy


  Talking about industry reputation, you should take a look at Reputation Institute’s recent global RepTrak results about the ups and downs of industry reputation. Most industries have an average reputation with only three standing out – consumer products, food-manufacturing and beverage.  At the other end, the bottom, we see financial-bank, financial-diversified, chemicals, telecommunications, utilities, and way on the bottom tobacco.  Pharmaceuticals saw a slight increase over 2011.

Industry associations have a hard challenge ahead of them.  22 of the 25 industries were average or below. Being average is not good enough either in this catch 22 world.

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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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