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Every organisation wants to have a good reputation. So how can a reputation score help achieve this? What does it mean, how is it calculated, and how can it be actioned to create business benefit?
A company’s reputation can be evaluated in many ways. It can be deduced from stakeholder opinions. From share price. From media coverage. Or it can be condensed into a reputation score. What is a reputation score? It is akin to an individual’s credit score, a moveable number by which an organisation’s reputation is quantified. Effectively, a trust score.
By pinpointing a reputation score on a scale, it provides an accurate evaluation of where the company’s reputation sits in comparison to its peers and competitors, within its industry and within the market as a whole. It forms an integral part of reputation management, and should be part of any business background or diligence report.
Reputation scores can be calculated in many different ways, with a number of online reputation management companies offering bespoke solutions. They frequently focus solely on search engine rankings, which is a very narrow view on the world. A more useful metric, however, is rooted in a real-time, technology-driven calculation, drawing on millions of relevant data points.
The challenge lies not so much in identifying a reputation score – although ensuring that it is statistically robust and reflects the full gamut of stakeholder views is vital – the real key is in knowing what to do with it.
Viewed on its own, without unpacking the trends behind the numbers, a reputation score can skew the story. Negative reporting might be outweighed by excellent communications performance, resulting in an acceptable score that goes unchallenged. Its simplicity can obscure the need for action, laying a company open to greater reputational risk. Worse, if an organisation is sliding down the reputation rankings, a reputation score isn’t enough to reveal the reasons behind the drop.
What is needed is a measurement system that identifies and quantifies reputation drivers. A well-rounded reputation score will be multi-dimensional, taking into account a wide range of factors. External influences could include media mentions, online reviews, references in governmental debates, social media posts, targeted surveys, Google search results, average star counts and directory presence.
Internal factors include quality of products and services supplied by an organisation, affecting how customers feel about it. Workplace culture drives employee perceptions. A high level of innovation inspires investors, as does good performance and profitability. Corporate social responsibility is important to the wider public and campaign groups. Leadership, and the personal brand of the CEO, drives media perceptions. The more factors taken into account when formulating a reputation score, the more insight can be drawn from it.
The biggest single factor affecting the accuracy of a reputation score is the breadth of data sources used to calculate it. The more blogs, newspaper articles and online mentions that are trawled, the more accurate the score will be. Research should have a global reach, be multi-lingual, and able to identify sentiment, whether positive, negative, or neutral, as well as unique mentions.
Given the volume of data being processed, calculation of an accurate reputation score requires the use of artificial intelligence, proprietary machine learning software, sophisticated statistical analysis and modelling. It should be done in real time, reflecting how reputation fluctuates throughout the business day.
An effective reputation scoring programme will also use software to identify which reputation factors and drivers are the most important in any given sector or marketplace, and weight the scoring accordingly.
The alva Reputation Score is the most sophisticated tool for ranking businesses based on reputation. Using proprietary blended AI and NPL technologies, and expert human oversight, alva analyses millions of pieces of content, in real time. With data from more than 200 countries, in over 90 languages, the alva solution is able to measure sentiment among stakeholders on every topic affecting a business.
In addition, alva’s amplification weighting process ranks content in terms of reliability, size of audience, and reader recall. This automatically accounts for the influence of a given source, prominence of the company in the content, and whether it is the sole organisation being reported on – all key drivers of perception formation.
An intelligent sentiment algorithm references dictionaries to identify positive, neutral and negative keywords and many shades of nuance in between. It accounts for different types of sentiment, based on specific metrics relating to the scenario in which the company is mentioned, and how it is positioned and described.
This degree of intelligent analysis results in an accurate, constantly updated and reliable reputation score for a given company.
A reputation score has a value, in and of itself, in making a company aware of the health of its reputation. It allows tracking of reputation against competitors. It gives an impression of the company’s online image. A good reputation score will reflect well on the business in media stories surrounding any type of reputation index. It also looks good in annual reports.
But the real work lies in turning that score into actionable intelligence, using it to drive business strategies and communications plans which can help outstrip the competition.
With a reputation score to hand, organisations can gauge stakeholder sentiment, and catalogue the drivers that are influencing it, in real time. By acknowledging the individual factors influencing reputation score, organisations are able to address the areas in which active input will have the most beneficial impact on its reputation. This could encompass anything from search engine optimisation to better customer service.
In the hyper-connected world, it’s easy for customers, shareholders, regulators and suppliers to shift their opinions of a business based on the enormous quantities of publicly available data written and shared about it – all of which affects reputation. Online reviews heavily influence sales, and share price rises and falls with the publication of analyst commentary and the financial media news cycle.
Taking the proactive step of first understanding its reputation score and then seeking to enhance it will help any organisation to influence how the world sees it.