We don’t need to tell you that a good reputation is an important starting point for meaningful engagement.
Possessing a good reputation brings inclusion, a willingness for engagement and industry-wide respect. A good reputation is built with authenticity and empathy – it can be hard won, and easily lost.
So, how do you measure your public perception? Given that how you see your business may differ from how others perceive or experience it, it must be kept in mind that they ultimately use their perceptions when deciding whether or not to engage with you.
Although reputations can be influenced, the fact that perception lies in the eye of the beholder makes it difficult to perfectly tailor the public face of your organisation. It is important to remember that businesses are more likely to see you through a framework of qualities that specifically matters to their industry. Government departments, for instance, might focus on your budgeting efficacy, while politicians might focus on your movements in their own electorate.
It is here that measuring your reputation can come in handy – before engaging with stakeholders or government, industry should be aware of its public perception and how it can be utilised to improve the success of its engagements.
Here are our three options for ascertaining the state of your reputation:
- CRITICALLY REVIEW YOUR OWN VIEWS
This one is basic. Consider the expectations set by your organisation. What are your values? Consider the expectations set by your past engagements. Were you organised, on time and concise? Did you have a clear ask or concept for the stakeholder to invest in? Did you follow up after the meeting and advise them of your next steps? Actions like these are likely to foster an image of professionalism and integrity for your business and will be considered reflective of how your business sees itself.
- ASK OTHERS ABOUT THEIR PERCEPTIONS OF YOU
Surveying your stakeholders about their experience with your organisation not only creates a holistic image of your public perception but builds more open and consultative relationships with them too. Which values do they think motivate your work? What do they think you are known for within your industry? Have your engagements been successful? Attaining answers to questions like these from external voices contributes to a much more objective view of your organisation’s reputation.
- ENGAGE AN EXTERNAL FIRM TO UNDERTAKE A PERCEPTION AUDIT
Monitoring all of the strands of public engagement in an ongoing way can be difficult, as can tracking your reputation amongst numerous stakeholders. When asked, stakeholders may be reticent to give direct feedback or make recommendations of changes. Strategic research, like Perception Auditing, can be used to mitigate this reticence and attract the full range of views of your organisation. Research like this is far more likely to tell you what you need to hear in regard to the positives or negatives of your public conduct. A Nexus Public Affairs Perception Audit provides a candid and real-time view of how stakeholders perceive an organisation, which can be used as a baseline to improve engagement programs.
Once a broader impression of your public perception has been ascertained, the measure can be made more effective by linking it to the long-term plans for your business. Goals for stakeholder engagement can then be contextualised by the potential for reputational risk or reward, and thus further tailored for a greater chance of success.