Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Reputation Forecast

The start of the New Year is a good time for companies – if not done already – to take a look at their corporate reputations…and determine what the outlook is.

Most of us are well aware of the benefits of a financial forecast. Similarly, the "reputation forecast" is a basic tool for thinking strategically about the future of your company in today’s reputation-driven economy, when your company’s value is in play and at risk on a day-to-day — even a minute-to-minute — basis. A reputation forecast enables you to identify potential opportunities and vulnerabilities early on, before any action (or lack thereof) can irreparably damage the good name of your company

The factors that are likely to have an impact on the ways in which your organization is viewed by all of its constituencies will vary from company to company and industry to industry, but they are likely to include:

  • Demographic trends
  • Psychographic profiles
  • The economy
  • The impact of technology
  • Competition
  • Geopolitical trends
  • Regulatory issues

Each has the potential to play out on a local, national or global level. Each will have an impact on your employees, shareholders, customers and suppliers … and ultimately, on your company’s value in today’s “reputation economy.” You need to know what impact, if any, these variables are likely to have on your:

  • Product development
  • Marketing and advertising programs
  • Shareholder relations
  • Community relations
  • Customer relations
  • Employee loyalty
  • Recruitment and training
  • Market capitalization

Creating a reputation forecast can be a challenging exercise, but you’ve probably already created a simpler version, if you have any experience managing issues or crises. What I’m suggesting is that you apply these principles more broadly, to every aspect of your business … and revisit them quarterly, or even monthly, because in today’s Wired World, change is so rapid that you’re always at risk of being swamped by it.

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