This Month in Reputation: CEOs Put Their Focus on Corporate Purpose and Reputation

Blog Post13 Dec, 2019

This month, companies across a wide range of industries were grappling with the growing importance of reputation, and some have been sent reeling from the loss of it. Also, two new studies show that, across the board, consumers and investors are more concerned with responsibility and reputation than ever.

CEOs in PR are increasingly concerned with reputation

The new World PR report from the International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) shows that CEOs taking reputation more seriously, and companies are emphasizing corporate purpose. Together, these two developments are leading to growth within the PR industry.

Specifically, corporate reputation was cited by 41% of respondents as the most important objective for most clients (compared to 35% who said their clients were looking more for help with meeting product or sales objectives). When asked by the ICCO which areas of their business had grown most rapidly over the past 12 months, corporate reputation was ranked number one.

A new study measures consumer sentiment about brand purpose

The RepTrak Company has partnered with StrawberryFrog, an international marketing and advertising agency, for the Purpose Power Index (PPI), a groundbreaking new study that measures how consumers really think and feel about brand purpose. The PPI identifies a new brand of leader with a higher mission at their core.

Conducted in the fall of 2019, the PPI is the largest study ever measuring perceptions of brand purpose, based on more than 17,500 individual ratings among more than 7,500 U.S. consumers, and encompassing more than 200 different brands.

Brand purpose relates to a brand's mission in society, the higher-order reason for it to exist beyond simply making a profit. The PPI list is noteworthy for brands associated with important and sometimes controversial social issues and movements. These leaders include brands both large and small, and represent both newer disruptor brands (such as Seventh Generation, TOMS, and Method) and established incumbents.

A rash of CEO exits shows that times are a-changing in corporate culture

In Boston Business Journal, The RepTrak Company's Chief Reputation Officer Stephen Hahn-Griffith explains that "governance and societal trends are transforming the corporate landscape" in light of a mass exodus of top CEOs following serious transgressions.

Not only has CEO turnover reached a record high, but more CEOs than ever are being fired for ethical issues. According to Hahn-Griffiths, this shift means that profits are no longer the be-all, end-all of a company, and purpose is now arguably more important. This means corporate responsibility is crucial.

Moreover, as reputation get more and more important, more CEOs will be judged on "responsibility" rather than merely the bottom line. 

Old standbys best young upstarts in Ri's annual survey of tech companies

For all the talk of unicorns like Uber and AirBnB, it was stalwarts like Microsoft and IBM that took the top spots in our annual survey of tech companies.

Microsoft performed particularly well, increasing its score by an impressive eight points, making the company among the most improved of the bunch. Microsoft earned praise from respondents for high quality products and services, its leadership, and its governance.

That said, tech still has a middling reputation compared to other industries like retail, food and beverage, and hospitality. It does edge perennially unpopular industries like pharmaceuticals, health care, and airlines, though. (After all, who doesn't like our iPhone more than being delayed for three hours inside the airport?)

And tech's reputation has been brought down over the past few years due to various scandals—from data breaches to sexual harassment to collaboration with ICE.

Major League Baseball under the microscope again for ethical violations

The Washington Post's Thomas Boswell once wrote, "Cheating is baseball's oldest profession. No other game is so rich in skullduggery, so suited to it or so proud of it."

Well, it seems like not much has changed. Case in point: The Houston Astros, the Cinderella story of 2017, are under investigation to see if they ignored the rules and used cameras to steal signs from the catchers of opposing teams. There are also allegations the team used electronic equipment to steal signs in earlier seasons.

At the center of the investigation are coaches who now manage teams elsewhere—including Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who was the Astros' bench coach at the time.

There hasn't been a scandal in professional baseball this big since 2013, when several prominent players were tied to Alex Bosch, who provided them with testosterone and HGH under the cover of an anti-aging clinic. All but one of the accused players ended up serving a 50-day ban.

Analysts say the team won't lose their World Series title, but may lose something even more irreplaceable: Their reputation.

What stories about reputation have been catching your eye recently? I'd love to know! Share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #RepTrak.

Melanie LoBue  Senior Director of Global Marketing The RepTrak Company @melanielobue

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