Reputation Matters: PRCA research shows strong link to business performance and host of other business benefits

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  • YouGov poll shows that 76% of PR and communications professionals believe board directors see strong link between reputation and company financial performance
  • Recruitment and staff retention ahead of positive media coverage as main benefit of enhanced reputation
  • PR sits at the top table – 87% state that CEOs are supportive of PR but companies still not paying enough attention to social strategies and crisis comms planning

The PRCA, in conjunction with YouGov, will today unveil research into the importance and value of reputation for UK businesses. Following the launch of the ‘Economics of Reputation’ toolkit in July, the new results are the latest step in the PRCA’s ongoing campaign to aide understanding and stimulate debate around the contribution reputation makes to all organisations. As well as highlighting the key benefits experienced from having an enhanced reputation, the survey has found a renewed confidence in the growing support for PR among senior management in managing this reputation for brands and organisations.

Key findings from the research include:

Better quality staff ahead of positive media coverage as key benefit of a good reputation

Media still matters but for the majority of PR and communications professionals, a good reputation now has a much wider impact than simply better coverage. 92 per cent cite the ability to attract and retain the best staff as a key benefit for companies with enhanced reputations ahead of 87 per cent citing positive media coverage. Crucially, 75 per cent believe organisations with a good reputation have a greater likelihood of receiving the benefit of the doubt from stakeholders if reputational damage is incurred.

Despite the wide ranging bottom-line benefits of a good reputation, 83 per cent of respondents admitted that their communications teams were still measured on how much positive media coverage they were able to generate, far higher than any other metric

And despite living in an increasingly digital age, the research found that journalist criticism was still seen as a sensitive spot for senior managers, with only three per cent of respondents in strong agreement that their leaders care less about negative journalist feedback than they used to. This focus on media approval appears to be in direct contrast to the involvement with social media, where 42 per cent of respondents admitted that they were ‘weak’ compared to their competitors or client’s competitors.


Reputation and financial performance inextricably linked

For PR and communications professionals, the relationship between corporate reputation and financial performance is strong. 76 per cent of respondents believe that their or their clients’ board of directors clearly see a link between corporate reputation and financial performance.

CEOs get reputation more than any of their C-suite colleagues

Only 61 per cent of respondents are confident that CFOs believe that day-to-day reputation management affects the bottom line. This is a big contrast to the CMO, who has the confidence of 79 per cent of respondents, and the CEO who 92 per cent believe understands the impact of reputation to the bottom line. The perennial challenge for the PR industry of having the ear of top management is showing signs of being resolved with 87 per cent of respondents stating that CEOs were supportive of their activities. However, despite buy in from the top on the important role public relations plays in managing reputation, worryingly 54 per cent of respondents admitted to not testing crisis comms plans, or not knowing if they have been tested, over the past 12 months.

“The findings suggest that we’re on the brink of a sea change in the role of communications professionals” commented Tony Langham, Vice-Chairman of the PRCA’s PR Council. “There is wide appreciation that a strong reputation achieves more than just positive media coverage and enhanced marketing – it also delivers better quality staff, the benefit of the doubt from stakeholders and greater clout with Government. The person at C-suite level, who really gets it, is the person who matters most, the CEO.”

Langham added: “The only worrying sign in the survey is the under-investment across the British industry in crisis planning and in social media. As a consequence though, both areas offer competitive advantage to those organisations that do invest”.

Top seven business benefits of enhanced reputation

The direct business benefits of enhanced reputation according to respondents of the survey were as follows:

  • Ability to recruit and retain the best staff (92 per cent)
  • More positive media coverage (87 per cent)
  • Greater likelihood of receiving the benefit of the doubt from stakeholders if reputational damage incurred (75 per cent)
  • More effective marketing / sales activity (75 per cent)
  • Higher quality commercial partnerships (65 per cent)
  • Greater influence on Government (65 per cent)
  • Higher sales levels (64 per cent)

“The research shows the indisputable significance of reputation for communications professionals and the myriad benefits they feel it offers to organisations of all industries and sizes, both directly and indirectly. Yet by comparison, how the performance of communications teams is measured seems very limited and doesn’t reflect this broader impact. This will always limit wider corporate appreciation of PR’s economic contribution” commented Oliver Rowe, Director, Reputation Research, YouGov.


About PRCA

Who we are: Founded in 1969, the PRCA is the largest PR association in Europe, representing 12,000 people in agencies, in-house communications teams, and individuals. The PRCA promotes all aspects of public relations and internal communications work, helping teams and individuals maximise the value they deliver to clients and organisations.

What we do: The Association exists to raise standards in PR and communications, providing members with industry data, facilitating the sharing of communications best practice and creating networking opportunities.

How we do it and make a difference: All PRCA members are bound by a professional charter and codes of conduct, and benefit from exceptional training. The Association also works for the greater benefit of the industry, sharing best practice and lobbying on the industry's behalf e.g. fighting the NLA's digital licence.

Who we represent: The PRCA represents many of the major consultancies in the UK, and currently has more than 350 agency members from around the world, including the majority of the top 150 UK consultancies. We also represent over 150 in-house communications teams from multinationals, UK charities and leading UK public sector organisations.