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Reputation Management

While Corporate Reputation covers the concept and the theory, Reputation Management is very much the deployment of that theory into everyday reality, which is often more challenging and fraught than the textbooks may have us believe. Indeed, it is arguably not even possible to “manage” one’s reputation, but merely influence it. In this section, we look at real life examples of different companies’ attempts to manage their reputations and the various techniques available to improve your chances of success.

Reputation Management

Reputation management, the definitive guide to managing your reputation

Reputation Management has become synonymous with spin over the years, with a whole industry springing up to suppress search results and manage bad news. But in truth, the real purpose of Reputation Management should be much more about listening to stakeholders, understanding their expectations and then building these into an organisation’s decision making process. We believe that Reputation Management should be reclaimed as Stakeholder Engagement.


1. What is reputation management?

If corporate reputation is the perception of a business by its stakeholders, both internal and external, then reputation management must, by inference, be the shaping of those perceptions. In the real world, however, it’s not that simple.

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2. What is a reputation score?

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?

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3. Why you can’t ‘manage’ your reputation

Reputation management is a hot topic: plug it into a search engine, and you’ll come up with a swathe of results outlining why it’s a vital business strategy. But, like so many things in life, to manage your reputation is not that simple. And, to be pedantic, it’s not actually possible.

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4. Why online corporate reputation is important

Company reputation is composed of many elements, and channelled through the whole spectrum of media outlets, but in the digital world, online image is kin.

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5. The difference between reputation intelligence and online reputation management

Bad reviews, negative content and damaging online commentary can all dent an organisation’s reputation. The temptation to smother such stories, so that search engines don’t throw up negative reporting in connection to your business, is undeniable, understandable – and arguably underhand.

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6. The name game: protecting your reputation using social media

The traditional media often give utilities a rough ride, but social media provides them with an opportunity to engage directly with customers, says Jonathan Evans. The advent of social media has given a voice to a group that five years ago had much more difficulty being heard – individual consumers.

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7. Public relations as reputation management

Since its inception, the role and scope of public relations have changed significantly. The modern communications professional should now see themselves as the guardian of reputation rather than the cycler of spin

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8. Climate Change and Canadian Banks

Media coverage of the ‘Big Six’ Canadian banks in 2020 was dominated by their responses to COVID-19. As the year progressed, as well as continued coverage of the banks’ responses to the pandemic, we also saw the issue of racial inequality increase in visibility in media coverage, specifically focused on the banks’ actions in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd and the increased importance of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US.

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9. UK Telco sector sees strong reputational gains exiting 2020

Telecommunications firms have faced a tough 2020, as networks see record-breaking traffic and retail-facing operations adapt to customers’ changing purchasing preferences during the pandemic. In December, companies that are able to bridge exciting offers that meet the moment – for instance, Tesco and Vodafone’s offers and community-focused holiday initiatives and charity drives – are seen to be most successful.


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10. Supermarkets, the unsung heroes

Of all the many seismic changes that 2020 has precipitated, one that may have gone under the radar of most people is the impact of the pandemic on perceptions of the UK supermarket sector.


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11. Big 4’s reputation increasingly defined by audit quality

We assess the extent to which audit firms are discussed as a homogenous entity, or whether their work and their proactive efforts to engage in the debate have resulted in differentiation. We also seek to unpack the risks firms face by being associated with the sector, as well as the opportunities there are to leverage or to address any perceived areas of comparison between firms, whether good or bad.

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12. Brand reputation: case studies

While the vast majority of Communications teams will have some form of media monitoring in place, their actual customer experience is often poor. The service has variously attracted a bad reputation for being expensive, fragmented, inaccurate and slow.

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Case studies

1. Amazon: The alva Reputation Case Study

Amazon is a juggernaut. Its success by any traditional measure is unquestionable. Yet there is a persistent background disquiet about the company and how it is run. In this case study, we will use the example of Amazon to unpack the concept of multiple reputations and to illustrate how the oversimplification of the concept of reputation can lead to complacency, false assumptions and potentially missed reputation risks.

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2. British Airways: The alva Reputation Case Study

It has been a challenging few years for British Airways on a number of fronts. Once a regular member of the Most Admired Companies list, the firm has not troubled the rankings for many years now and its profile seems to largely be defined by mishaps and operational issues. We analyse British Airways’ reputation in this case study.

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3. Johnson & Johnson: The alva Reputation Case Study

The world is very familiar with a particular face of J&J – the consumer-first, parent and baby friendly corporate giant which sets and adheres to standards that most other businesses would love to emulate.

So what, therefore, are we to make of the series of allegations and lawsuits that have dogged J&J in the past 48 months, from litigation over its baby talc, to faulty pelvic mesh implants, to blood thinner deaths, to the company’s role in the opioid crisis? What has this actually done to J&J’s reputation?

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4. Case Study: Carlsberg: Reputation is always evolving

Now that there is growing recognition that a positive reputation and commercial success go hand in hand – and, by implication, a poor reputation can negatively impact commercial performance – many organisations are wrestling with how best to get closer to understanding and shaping their reputation. To enable reputation to become embedded within an organisation,...
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5. Report: Cybersecurity and the risks to reputation

With Cybersecurity and data breaches making headlines following high profile incidents at TalkTalk and now Vodafone, alva leveraged its content analytics engine to understand the reputational impact of such events and what lessons there are for companies planning for and responding to data breaches. This report analyses the issue of data breaches using over 12...
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6. Volkswagen scandal Case Study

The Volkswagen emissions scandal has been dominating the headlines, with questions being asked of the affect it could have on their medium and long-term impact reputation. From alva we have done Volkswagen scandal cases study. These are our conclusions. The majority of the coverage has been speculative, or simply looking at share price movement, so...
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7. Amazon’s workforce – when a “reputation crisis” isn’t a reputation crisis

In the wake of an expose in the New York Times on Amazon’s treatment of its staff, we were curious to see what impact the negative coverage was having on Amazon’s reputation among their key stakeholders. Our key findings were: Amazon’s reputation decline has been short-lived and not as steep or pronounced as previous issues...
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8. Boeing: The alva Reputation Case Study

The term “reputation crisis” is an overly-used and oft-misunderstood characterisation of a negative event that has befallen an organisation.     The hyperbolisation of media and social media reporting means that many a company which faces a one-off reputational risk issue, may find themselves on the receiving end of depictions of them being “in crisis” on a particular...
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9. Australian Bushfires: The alva Reputation Case Study

Have the Australian bushfires made coal reputationally toxic for business? The start of 2020 has been dominated by the tragic daily scenes of the Australian bushfires, which have captured the sympathies and concerns of people across the globe. Amid the outpouring of emotion has been recurrent criticism of the Australian government and its Prime Minister Scott Morrison for its handling...
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10. Boycotts in the COVID-19 era: Are these now a reputational opportunity?

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in late February, there have been countless studies seeking to understand its effects on human behaviour. These have ranged from research suggesting that the early stages were characterised by greater altruism and a spirit of solidarity, to more recent reports over growing frustrations, and anger at restrictions on movement, spilling over into...
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