Ipsos Corporate Reputation

Global Perspectives on Sector Reputations

Which industries are facing the greatest reputation challenges at the moment?

North America

Despite almost ten years having passed since the financial crisis, the financial services industry continues to be seen as the sector facing the greatest reputational challenge in North America, mentioned by over half (56%) of Council members; ‘there is still too much risk involved; the lingering effects of the global crisis’.

The energy sector also comes under scrutiny (mentioned by 50%), with climate change and alternative energy most mentioned as issues for the sector to address. Nominations for the pharma industry have risen slightly (now 38%). One Council member observes that ‘a handful of players have led folks to believe that this is how all companies operate. One bad apple spoils the bunch’.

Latin America

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the region’s history and geography, mining is nominated as an industry facing reputational challenges by a significant proportion (75%) of Council members interviewed in Latin America. Members say the industry faces complex challenges, needing to balance generating revenue and employment for the region, while mitigating their impact on communities and the environment; ‘through illegal mining, a negative impact was caused to vulnerable sectors, which has generated a collective feeling of rejection.’


In Europe, much as in North America, the financial services industry continues to feel the impact of the financial crisis, mentioned by six in ten (58%) as an industry facing reputational challenges. Council members also mention executive pay, cyber security, and a general lack of trust in banking as issues facing the sector, with members noting that ‘the banks will likely always feature’ because ‘fundamentally, people don’t trust the bankers’.

Mentions of energy have risen since 2016. While climate change and pricing remain issues for the sector to address, the impact of new technology (e.g. electric cars) on energy demand emerges as a new issue for the sector to take action on; ‘if we suddenly get a massive shift to electric cars, even in the next 2, 3 or 5 years…where does that electricity come from?’

Asia Pacific

The financial services industry continues to struggle in APAC, mentioned by three-quarters (73%) of Council members this year. As in other markets, the legacy of the 2008 crisis continues to impact the sector, with other mentions including mis-selling scandals and negligent consumer lending. In particular, Council members say the sector faces the challenge of communicating complex issues in a clear, succinct way; ‘their working is very opaque. And even when they try and explain, and become transparent, it’s very complex.’ As in other regions, Energy emerges as a sector of concern this year, mentioned by two-fifths (41%) of Council members. Reliability, affordability and sustainability are the key issues to address.

In full: how Reputation Council members around the world perceived each sector's reputation

Methodology: 127 interviews conducted with Reputation Council members between April and August 2017.

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The Reputation Council Report 2020: Full Report

Welcome to the latest edition from the Ipsos Reputation Council.

Our fourteenth sitting involves 150 senior communicators from 19 countries - making this a truly international view.

In this report, our Council members explore the newest thinking and practice in corporate reputation management and tell us how they are responding to a changing communications landscape. In a world of constant disruption there has never been a greater need for companies to actively engage with their stakeholders and wider civil society. For many, issues such as climate change, sustainability and social cohesion are no longer climbing the corporate agenda - they have reached its summit.

Indeed, it seems that even ‘hard-headed’ stakeholders such as investors no longer assess the reputation and investment appeal of a company solely through key financial ratios. They want to see evidence of a company’s broader role in society, not least because it is seen as an essential part of any sustainable business model.

We therefore took this opportunity to explore the degree to which Council members felt that the escalation in the importance of sustainability was becoming more pervasive in the corporate environment. We also asked them to highlight industries that were under the sustainability spotlight the most – as well as examples of companies that stood out as being at the cutting edge of best practice.

Many Council members asked us to include a section on communications planning in this year’s report and we were happy to oblige. Our article ‘Communications planning in a disruptive environment’ explores the major elements of the planning process, including timing, key inputs, the degree of distinction between internal and external communications and major challenges the communicator faces – now and in the future.

Part of communications planning is of course setting goals, and the management maxim that if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it, which quickly leads us to the topic of data. We were not only interested in the types of data sources Council members used, but also the way in which they integrated their data sources to provide strategic reputation insights.

We also wanted to understand the range of stakeholders Council members engaged with – if they prioritised distinctive groups, created tailored messaging and whether they were specifically targeting social media influencers: and if so, what techniques they used.

Finally, we decided to retain our popular quick-fire section from last year’s report. We asked Council members questions on a variety of subjects, such as the role businesses play, relative to the government, in fixing society’s problems and whether fake news and disinformation pose a material threat to business.

Our thanks to all members for participating in our fourteenth sitting of the Reputation Council report. We hope you enjoy this edition and please get in touch if you would like to discuss any of the issues we’ve covered, or if you have any questions about your own communications challenges.


Milorad Ajder
Global Service Line Leader
Corporate Reputation

The Reputation Council Report 2018: Full Report

Welcome to the latest briefing from the Ipsos Reputation Council.

This – our thirteenth sitting – has been the biggest and most international yet, involving 154 senior communicators from 20 countries.

As Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, once said: “reputation has a habit of arriving on foot and departing on horseback”. In the past year, a welter of high-profile reputation scandals affecting businesses, their leaders and even whole industry sectors has, once again, focused our minds on the risks and rewards of this powerful but potentially volatile asset.

Some of these scandals have posed a genuine threat to companies’ continued survival or licence to operate. Others have fizzled out. In this edition, we examine how Reputation Council members distinguish between issues which might blow up into a genuine reputation crisis, and others that are just day-to-day turbulence. What indicators or early warning systems can communicators draw on, to help them build resilience?

The technology sector has been wrestling with some unprecedented reputation issues recently. Concerns around privacy, data leaks, advertising practices, AI and automation have come together to create the phenomenon of ‘techlash’. We talk to Council members about the implications for their own businesses and the lessons that communicators can learn from the way in which the technology sector is responding to techlash.

We’re also beginning to see greater scrutiny of the role that CEOs should play in external communications, against a backdrop of issues such as pay ratio reporting, gender inequality, shrinking CEO tenures and the ‘celebrity leader’. In this edition, we explore Council members’ playbook for CEO-led communications, and look at how the CCO can ensure that these communications build, rather than destroy, reputation value.

The opportunities and challenges that come with communicating in a global context is a theme we’ve examined in past editions. In this sitting, we ask Council members how they strike the right balance between global and local messaging and narratives, and how they keep a finger on the pulse of their reputation (or reputations) around the world.

Lastly, we’ve introduced some new, ‘quickfire’ sections, in which we analyse Council members’ views on a number of contentious, topical talking points, such as the death of CSR, the distraction posed by social media, the need to pick a side in a polarising society, and whether consumers will overlook poor corporate behaviour if the price is right

I hope you enjoy this edition of the Reputation Council report. Please do get in touch if you’d like to find out more about any of the issues covered or discuss how they might affect your own business.

Milorad Ajder
Global Service Line Leader
Corporate Reputation

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