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It’s not only corporate affairs managers that are turning to reputation measurement, boards now recognise reputation is a major risk and seek an ongoing reputation measure including perceptions of the organisation. They believe that by understanding the perceptions of markets and stakeholders it is possible to highlight when their organisation’s reputation is at risk.

Reputation insight is vital

In part this is true, but leading organisations also recognise that reputations are dynamic, complex and evolving phenomena. A simple quantitative survey may provide some measures of reputation attributes but is not likely to inform or adequately define an organisation’s current reputation or identify the factors potentially causing damage to it.

Our experience with large clients reinforces that clients need much more than stakeholder scores against specific attributes. When clients learn of some concerning scores, they want to know why stakeholders scored them this way, what history shaped this scoring and what they should do to most effectively respond to these concerns.

Understand key stakeholder perceptions

While reputation measurement surveys reveal how stakeholders score an organisation’s character based on specified attributes, they don’t explain ‘why’. When executive teams turn their attention to enhancing their reputation by addressing poor scores, qualitative insight is critical. They need to understand the rationale, expectations and experiences of stakeholders, in their own words.

A comprehensive reputation research approach

Our approach is to gather this detail during the initial research with stakeholders, not only do we report reputation measures, we provide stakeholder motives, rationale, insights and solutions to the executive team for them to move forward with stakeholder endorsement. The solution is to apply both quantitative and qualitative research to reputation measurement, not one or the other. Recognise that each provides answers to differing questions and informs differing decisions. Together these research tools provide comprehensive insights not just to measure reputation but also to understand and manage reputation.

Using both Qualitative and Quantitative reputation research

Qualitative research in the form of in-depth interviews with senior key stakeholders provides rich, informed insights about your organisation and makes use of independent research to elicit frank, strategic and savvy insights from those well informed about your organisation.

Quantitative research provides a regular mechanism by which you can gauge market, stakeholder or community perceptions of your organisation using relatively low-cost online surveys among a carefully identified audience. By asking respondents to score your organisation against certain attributes you will be gathering their perceptions and potentially measuring reputation.

Reputation research informs your improvement plans

Having completed over 50 reputation and stakeholder research projects, our experience confirms that organisations that perform reputation measurement using both quantitative and qualitative research are those that develop the best informed reputational improvement plans.

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