What's on the Minds of Corporate Communications Execs?

Chief Corporate Communications Officers


The Reputation Leaders Study is an annual assessment by Reputation Institute that answers the simple question: what’s on the minds of corporate communications executives? 

We perform this analysis to identify trends and discover what CCOs around the world care most about; their challenges and opportunities and how corporate reputation impacts their roles and the companies they represent.

Who did we interview?

In our data and insights team spoke with over 170 c-suite executives and directors who lead their company’s respective corporate communications teams. We specifically connected with executives representing North America, Latin America, EMEA and APAC, across 17 industries. 

Here’s what we learned:

1. Reputation is a top priority, yet few have plans to manage it.

Reputation capability starts with initial exploration and understanding of the business rationale and culminates in full integration that guides long-term strategy for a company.
For context, in 2014, most companies were in the early to mid-stages of their reputation capabilities, while only 15% were at the most advanced stages of either cross-functional or full integration (Figure 1).
In 2014, the majority of corporate communicators, over 60%, view reputation as a high priority for companies; however, only 16% reported that they had plans to manage reputation.

Figure 1: 2014 Reputation Capabilities Levels

Corporate reputation

A higher proportion of companies are moving towards advanced reputation integration, with a 17% increase in either cross-functional or complete integration (Figure 2). 

Figure 2: 2014-2018 Reputation Capabilities Shift 

Brand reputation

With this shift towards integration, comes an enhanced sense of readiness. In 2018, 67% of corporate communicators report that they are ready to take on and manage reputation

Yet, despite this sense of readiness, companies are not equipped to properly manage their reputation. Only a third of respondents are taking proactive steps to strategically implement reputation efforts and only 43% are measuring it among stakeholders critical to their business strategy. 

2. CEOs are responsible for corporate reputation

At a time when 88% of corporate communicators state that corporate reputation is of moderate to high priority at an executive level; CEOs are taking matters in their own hands. While many CCOs are still primarily accountable for reputation, increasingly they are feeling that other c-suite leaders – especially the CEO – are assuming more leadership for reputation. The study reports that 27% of respondents state the CEO as the predominant manager of reputation, while only 19% place that responsibility with corporate communications. 

3. Top challenges: Executive buy-in, KPIs, process implementation

Under pressure from the CEO, many CCOs are frustrated by internal challenges of getting buy-in for a data source that measures reputation, and that aligns with other corporate KPIs and business results.

  • CEO buy-in continues to be a challenge for CCOs, even though it is a time when CEOs are more concerned about reputation than ever before 
  • CCOs strongly believe that reputation has a financial impact on their companies, but they require a better understanding of business-enhancing proof points 
  • Lack of process for implementation and internal silos that prevent cross-functional collaboration are an ongoing challenge; preventing internal progress
    Uber Reputation

4. Top Solutions: Be an employer of choice, win earned media

In hopes of moving towards tighter alignment on reputation and better business integration, companies are taking initiative to understand and manage reputation, related to their current business needs. These initiatives include:

  • Becoming a better employer: gathering data to educate companies on their current standing as an employer and what it takes to become the employer of choice 
  • Capturing earned media sentiment is top of mind
  • A holistic measurement system: something which only 30% are succeeding in
  • A dedicated manager of reputation: looking to a Chief Reputation Officer to integrate and implement reputation measurement and practices

5. Reputation impacts revenue, workplace, risk, positioning

56% of CCOs strongly believe that corporate reputation has a financial impact on their company. Beyond this stat, CCOs quantify the value of reputation as a:

  • Culture and workplace promoter
  • Differentiator that delivers a more premium status
  • Risk protection and mitigation tool
  • Business strategy and positioning among key stakeholders 

6. Reputation measurement is essential for competitive advantage.

Reputation is shaping the world and moving markets through key global macro-trends. C-Suite Execs can apply these leading macro-trend insights to their company to help them win on reputation relative to the competition. What steps can the C-Suite take to become more reputation ready and manage these often tumultuous reputation macro-trends?

  • Companies need a robust reputation measurement system to better understand the cause and effect of their company’s reputation
  • There is a need to identify the drivers and elevated risks of what shapes reputation – different macro-trends impact different companies in different ways
  • C-suite need to take proactive measure to most effectively manage their reputation to mitigate against future risk, and optimize the maximum upside opportunity

Final thoughts…

  • While more CCOs say their companies are reputation ready, they still need away to integrate and measure the impact of reputation
  • CCOs are still accountable for managing reputation, but CEOs are taking a firmer hand in managing reputation and need better data
  • Need to overcome the barriers of integrating reputation by establishing a link between reputation data and business success
  • The creation of a reputation cross-functional reputation council can help to overcome internal barriers to process and integration
  • Reputation needs to be viewed as a CEO dashboard metric that links to sales, marketing, corporate brand reputation, and business results 

Members of Ri’s Reputation Leaders Network have immediate access to our data and insights on this report. 

Please contact us directly if you’d like information on how to join the Reputation Leaders Network — a community of communications and marketing executives.  

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Ana Angelovska
Research Director
Reputation Institute

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