SPECTRA – a unique virtual reputation management conference was organised by Reputation Today on Sunday, 29th November. Margery Kraus, Founder & Executive Chairman at APCO Worldwide was a keynote speaker at #RTSPECTRA and the focus of her talk was the changing times, the global crisis, the ways we’ve been struggling to cope with it, the rising income inequality, the rise of nationalistic forces in government – instability and more. With all of this how does one ensure the business endures the instability to emerge stronger at the other end.
Kraus then goes on to talk about the World Economic Forum’s model for successful businesses. According to the model, successful business should have
- a radar – that gives companies a bird’s eye view of the occurrences in the world
- a compass – that directs companies to do the right things the right way
Talking about doing the right thing the right way the focus shifts to purpose.
Coming Back Stronger: What does it mean?
Companies and brands are thinking the pandemic is making them to rebuild themselves, so why not rebuild better – taking substantial measures on climate change, being more competitive in terms of attracting the right kind of workforce, introspecting about ways working from home has allowed companies to be more efficient for the future, standing up for causes that ensure one’s employees and customers are given equality and justice.
Rising Expectations from Brands
According to APCO Worldwide’s own research, ninety-four percent of people believe companies can help build a better society. Seventy-seven percent say they admire companies that put their business expertise to good use. Kraus emphatically insists, “This is beyond charity. This is really about social purpose.”
ESG: The Trend that is Ruling the Western Markets
The latest trend among investors in Western markets is ESG – Environmental, Social, Governance. Investors view these criteria as essential for sustainable investments. Companies that tick the ESG criteria have higher workforce stability and workforce happiness which in turn are indicators if a business’s success. Investors are increasingly zeroing in on this interlinked set of criteria that businesses need to demonstrate to attract their investments.
Kraus lists out five benefits of corporate purpose, such as, meeting stakeholders’ expectations, retaining top talents, being a leader in addressing social issues, increasing company growth. But the the most interesting among all of the five benefits was increasing “reputational equity”. Kraus thinks of reputational equity as deposits in a “reputation bank”, if you will. The deposits can be withdrawn when the company is confronted with an adverse challenge that can potentially harm the company’s reputation. If through action, consistency and purpose, a company manages to maintain enough deposits in the reputation bank then it can tide over such sudden risks to its reputation.
The Four A’s of a Champion Brand
Alignment: A clearly defined purpose so that everything a brand does can be aligned around it
Authenticity: In this age of “radical transparency” it is essential to constantly prove that you walk the talk
Attachment: It is important to ensure all of a company’s stakeholders feel an enduring emotional bond with the brand
Advocacy: It is of utmost importance that a company or a brand speaks up for what it believes at its core, that also informs its purpose
The Evolving Role of the Chief Communications Officer
The Chief Communications Officer can now be thought of as a Chief Connections Officer. This is because it is the CCO that aligns the company’s messages with its core purpose, s/he creates a “reservoir of friendships and relationships” of the brand with its various stakeholders, a CCO is not just a listener but a responder who responds based on the values the company cherishes, s/he also is the first in the line of fire when something goes wrong.
The essence of Margery Kraus’s session can be elucidated by these simple words that drive her organisation, “Think big and have passion”.
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