A Reputational Reckoning: Understanding PR’s Impact on Reputation

CARMA’s Insights Consultant, Orla Graham, recently presented at a corporate communications event in Amsterdam with a session titled “A Reputational Reckoning: Understanding PR’s Impact on Reputation.” The session addressed the key aspects of reputation management and the pivotal role PR plays in shaping and protecting an organisation’s public image. 

Navigating Uncertainty in the Modern Media Landscape 

In today’s climate, the media landscape is rapidly transforming, with algorithms, news feeds, and aggregators increasingly dictating how people consume news. We know that 60% of people do not trust the news, and more than a third actively avoid it. This, combined with geopolitical tensions, economic volatility, and the rise of misinformation, presents a challenging environment for communicators. 

Beyond Vanity Metrics: Measuring True Impact 

To work effectively and prove the impact of communications in such an environment, moving beyond vanity metrics is crucial. Traditional metrics like volume and reach, while easy to measure, often fail to capture the true impact of PR efforts. An objective-led, cyclical measurement framework focusing on outputs (media coverage), outtakes (audience perception), and outcomes (audience action) can address this. This approach ensures that PR activities are not just about generating buzz but driving meaningful engagement and long-term impact. 

The Importance of Reputation 

We know that reputation significantly influences various aspects of an organisation, including investment, share price, customer and talent retention, and overall market value. According to an Ocean Tomo study, intangible assets, including reputation, account for 90% of market value. PR is uniquely positioned to build and protect this vital asset. 

A Holistic Approach to Reputation Measurement 

A holistic and integrated approach to measuring reputation is essential. Relying on isolated metrics such as media coverage or social media mentions can lead to an incomplete picture. Instead, a comprehensive analysis that considers all reputational pillars across different inputs—media, social media, and public opinion—provides a clearer understanding of how PR efforts shape audience perceptions and drive overall reputation. 

To conclude, the following takeaways are essential for PR professionals navigating today’s volatile environment: 

  • Data-Informed Decisions: In times of crisis and uncertainty, data-driven decisions are crucial. Gut feelings are no longer sufficient. 
  • Clear Objectives and Audience Journey: Define clear objectives and understand the audience journey—who the audience is, what you want them to think, and what actions you want them to take. 
  • Distinguish Media from Reputation: Do not equate media coverage with reputation. A comprehensive view of all factors influencing reputation is necessary to make informed, strategic decisions. 

These insights highlighted the evolving role of PR in reputation management, emphasising the need for solid measurement frameworks and strategic thinking. For more insights from Orla Graham and to explore how our solutions can help you manage and strengthen your organisation’s reputation, contact us today

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