MSLGroup in India and Eikona PR Measurement have launched their co-authored report, ‘Reputation: How it is built and maintained, and the role of PR’.
The mandate for most public relations firms has been to primarily handle media relations and ensure that the brand/ company stands out in the cluttered media space. However, with the rapid shift towards a ‘Reputation Economy’ and the emergence of the digital space, PR agencies are now increasingly expanding their service portfolio and looking at handling not the company, but the ‘reputation’ of the company by leading the overall brand building and maintenance function. The report brings to the forefront the role that a PR agency can play in this front.
The report states that corporate reputation is based on the stakeholders’ perception of the company and not what the company thinks of itself. This reflects directly on whether a consumer buys the product or even an investor investing in the company. Reputation also differs from branding, as while branding can help shape reputation, reputation is long lasting. With the perception of the company directly impacting sales and even recruitment of employees, reputation management could fuel business’ growth.
Speaking at the launch, Jaideep Shergill, CEO, MSLGroup said, “Through this report, we wish to highlight the importance of reputation on the long-term future of businesses and also that the PR industry in India is uniquely geared to provide the strategic thinking required to build and maintain corporate reputation.”
The report also states that reputation should be managed taking into account all the stakeholders the company engages with as a corporate house does not have one single reputation. Shergill further said that trends already reflect a change in the nature of services offered, with media relations now making up just 65 per cent of the job profile as against 100 per cent earlier.
With communication becoming a key company objective, the report states that PR is being seen as a brand-builder on par with other tools. Siddhartha Mukherjee, Senior Vice-President, Eikona PR Measurement, remarked, “Till recently, India Inc was focusing all its energies only towards brand visibility and recall. Top management of some of the corporates in India have realised the impact of corporate brand reputation in their business planning and performance. Which is why, they are bringing reputation into their KRA (Key Responsibility Areas) charter by implementing research and measurement matrices. Here is where they are heavily depending on the usage of PR to create and sustain brand reputation.”
The report also forecasts that in the next few years, reputation management will evolve as one of the major instruments of crisis management. While the PR industry is well established in the West, the importance of PR has still not been realised by many Indian companies, with many not having a clear communication objective and why they require the services of a PR firm. Looking ahead, the report notes that business organisations are now revisiting communication plans and evaluating if media activation could lead to reputation building, where media coverage is incidental and the primary focus is on achieving business goals.