Ipsos Corporate Reputation

The biggest issues currently facing Corporate Communicators


"Appreciation of the CEO’s brand, how to handle that, and how that ties back to reputation."
"We have to put ourselves in the mindset of the CEO and the CFO more than we ever have done historically."
"You are engaging with people, seeing which arguments work, which arguments don’t; you have a sense of what is going on in the outside world, and what is acceptable today may not be regarded as acceptable behaviour in two years’ time. You need to talk to a lot of people and you need to listen – it is very important to listen. "

Brexit, Globalisation and Political Risk:

"Issues are becoming much, much more regional."
"Today it is even more important to focus on genuineness and transparency. This is not always easy for companies with complex business models, with partners and projects around the world. "

Purpose and CSR:

"What we noticed is that a lot of people are not looking for products or services, but they are looking to make investment, to buy in to a particular brand – it supports their lifestyle and aspirations."
"The commercialisation of CSR and sustainability is something which we haven’t cracked properly, really, and that is very, very important as well."

Employee Brand, Internal Communications, and Talent Acquisition:

"Employee engagement is increasingly moving up the agenda"
"Brand advocacy has been going on some time, how do you make your employees … brand defenders now?"

FRACTURED Media Environment:

"Jeff Bezos has a microphone in my living room — how do I feel about that?"
"We are disintermediating the business media because actually it is almost impossible to get their attention, unless it is for the wrong reasons."
"The emergence of a highly informed, engaged and active set of stakeholders who are now empowered by the digital revolution."
"The media landscape is changing colossally; everyone is becoming a communicator themselves."
"Another interesting challenge is how to combine the BTB communication and the BTC one: it is not easy to find a single ‘narrative’, since the needs and the requests of the different actors are different. "

Anti-Business Sentiment:

"There is absolutely zero appetite for positive stories about the role of business."
"We can clearly see that people are against companies making a real profit."
"Our shareholders want to hear how much money we have made… it is often quite a shameful thing to talk to people about the fact that we make €1 billion a quarter."
"That culture is going to fundamentally shift and what that means is in our sector we are going to get a lot more use of Bully Pulpits."

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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