Danny Rogers: Annual check-up for corporate bodies

This week we get an insight into the health of corporate reputations among the political community, thanks to the annual PoliticsHome/PRWeek Reputation Index

Danny Rogers
Danny Rogers

While it is unsurprising that most of the big charities enjoy positive sentiment among MPs, political journalists and other politicos, it is more interesting that brands such as the BBC and Marks & Spencer are so consistently well-regarded. In the BBC's case it scores much more positively than commercial rivals ITV and BSkyB.

Part of this is a traditional affection for institutions that have played a central role in our lives over many years. Most politicos will watch the BBC regularly, and most will have at least one suit - and probably underwear - from M&S.

But this ignores the huge PR and lobbying machines enjoyed by these classic 'middle England' brands. The BBC, for all its faults, employs some highly talented and experienced comms operators. So does M&S, with the added advantage of a figurehead - Stuart Rose - who is corporate charm personified.

The divided view of the trades unions is perhaps unsurprising in that the respondents are likely to be divided politically. However, the declining reputation of the TUC itself suggests that increasingly militant unions are not necessarily winning hearts and minds within the political establishment.

We notice that the big UK banks - Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays - have improved their reputations within this community over the past year. One can't help thinking that much of this is the result of fading memories of the 2008 banking crisis, but some concerted lobbying and comms work has certainly done them no harm.

There is now some evidence that the publicly owned banks have emerged from their paralysis last year, and are investing some of their new-found profitability in strategic comms campaigns.

But before these brands start returning to their natural state of complacency - it is difficult not to be complacent when you receive unconditional state support and customers rarely switch banks - they should perhaps take a hard look at these figures.

If we start hearing of another wave of huge bank bonuses in January, they will be scraping the bottom of the reputation barrel once more.

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