Top Five Mistakes Companies Make with Reputation & Risk Management

I interviewed Dr. David Geddes, who is Vice President of Research and Development for Evolve24 (, a business analytics and research firm specializing in the measurement of corporate reputation and risk.  David is also a member of the Institute for Public Relations Measurement Commission (, a thought leadership group.

Because Dr. Geddes has a strong background in both Market Research and Public Relations, I felt he would be the perfect person to describe the biggest mistakes he believes companies are making when it comes to managing risk.  Here is a summary of our discussion today:

  1. Organizational silos. Actions from all functional units – from marketing to customer service, operations, and human resources – have the power to enhance or detract from a company’s reputation. However, companies often focus on reputation during a crisis, and relegate reputation management to the PR department. Reputation and risk should be built in to a company’s shared DNA, not grafted on.
  2. Everybody “owns” reputation risk management.  Companies need to take a corporate-wide view of what their reputational strengths and weaknesses are and be prepared to act accordingly from within those areas, and not assume PR will handle it.  There needs to be a cohesive strategy, and risk management needs to be everyone’s responsibility.
  3. If you think the information doesn’t exist, you’re not looking hard enough.   Many companies today fail to understand disaggregated information, scattered across organizational silos.  There’s not a single source of data to tell you how you’re doing today, what may be looming on the horizon, or how well you performed last quarter.  News and Social Media have real-time impact on a company’s reputation, and that impact can snowball, especially if the news is bad.
  4. Companies often manage reputations looking back rather than by listening and anticipating.  Retrospective analyses and reports are fine, but you cannot manage in a Web 3.0 world by looking at the rearview mirror. Tools exist to show which way the proverbial winds are blowing, and this is especially true with product trends, issues, and risks.  By adopting an active listening program, companies can usually anticipate issues and trends that they can leverage to build reputation, or to identify trends which they should have seen coming.
  5. Reputation is not “one size fits all.” Corporate reputation encapsulates expectations by stakeholders about future behaviors of the corporation, and thus determines the relationships between the organization and its stakeholders. A company has as many reputations as it has stakeholder audiences. Sophisticated corporations routinely monitor, measure, and evaluate their reputation, risk, and the drivers of reputation and risk among all stakeholder audiences. How? They use smart listening tools built upon content analytics to target audience segments, identify opportunities and threats, develop action plans, and support the achievement of desired business outcomes.

For more of the whys and hows of corporation reputation and risk management, and the impact of Web 3.0 technologies on content analytics, come see David’s presentation at the Smart Content Conference Tuesday, October 19th.

Laurel Earhart

for Smart Content Conference

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