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One of the most important contributions of the Corporate Affairs function is understanding and communicating to the rest of the business the impact that the company’s activities have on the members of society and stakeholders. Bringing the Outside-In perspective.
Alongside this, Corporate Affairs also needs to understand the effectiveness of its own communications efforts and initiatives, both to demonstrate success to the rest of the business, while also reflecting and acting on learnings where things haven’t gone to plan.
At alva, we draw a clear distinction between these two use cases: the first – bringing the Outside-In view of stakeholder perceptions to the rest of the business – we call Reputation Intelligence; the second – measuring the effectiveness of our communications activities – we call Media Intelligence.
Both of these are highly valuable sources of intelligence, but their purpose and usage are necessarily distinct and should not be confused. If media intelligence masquerades as reputation intelligence, the executive will not obtain the insight it requires to take the right steps to strengthen its social contract. Likewise, if reputation intelligence is used to inform communications tactics, it is likely that incorrect conclusions will be drawn.
As ever with any form of intelligence, the key thing to reflect on is what are the questions I want to answer? Let’s take a look at the different questions that Media and Reputation Intelligence are designed to answer.
Media intelligence measures the direct results of the communications team’s efforts against their intended objectives. These objectives may be to position the company in a certain way, gain greater visibility in key titles or to increase positive perceptions towards the business. Depending on the objective, there are a range of metrics available to choose from, include basic approximations of tone and volume to more sophisticated quantifications of the number of people likely to have seen and retained a positioning statement
Some of the most common media intelligence questions that we’re asked to answer by our clients include:
You’ll notice that although we’re focusing on measuring the effectiveness of our communications efforts, the questions can be both tactical and strategic, with more sophisticated users basing future planning and prioritization of efforts based on intelligence rather than just gut instinct.
Answering these more sophisticated questions might require finding out whether customer loyalty for the brand improved—by comparing it against the Net Promoter Score (NPS), for instance—or asking whether there was an increase in sales of a particular product as a result of the stakeholders’ activities.
In summary, Media Intelligence is shorthand for measuring and optimizing communications effectiveness and the analytics exist today to do this in as tactical or as strategic a manner as the business needs.
In contrast, Reputation Intelligence is designed to bring clarity on what different stakeholders think and feel about an organization – what they like and dislike about the company and by extension, where it, therefore, faces reputational risks and opportunities.
Of course, proactive communications play an important role in helping influence these perceptions but there are many other factors that contribute to building an organization’s reputation that goes beyond the remit of this team.
To bring genuine Reputation Intelligence to the executive, Corporate Affairs leaders need to partner with intelligence providers that collect, analyse and interpret vast amounts of content that reflect the thoughts and feelings of their own unique set of stakeholders. For a pharmaceutical firm these stakeholders may be Policymakers, Medical Professionals, Academics, Payers and Patients. For an extractive firm, key stakeholders may be Suppliers and Partners, Governments, NGOs.
Data sources will include print, online and social media as well as broadcast coverage, financial analyst notes, brand trackers, primary research, employee surveys as well as parliamentary records and any other data that reflects a stakeholder’s perspective.
Some of the most common reputation intelligence questions that we’re asked to answer by our clients include:
As with media intelligence, the questions range from the tactical to the strategic, measurement to enhancement, retrospective to predictive, depending on the needs of the business and where it is on its own reputation journey.
So to recap, media intelligence and reputation intelligence are two different forms of intelligence which serve different purposes along a spectrum of tactical to strategic needs. When engaging with any intelligence provider in either area, we would recommend being clear on the questions you want answering in order to ensure the solution that is designed for you directly answers these questions.