PR council releases reputation criteria

NEW YORK: In an effort to unify standards and illuminate PR's role in reputation management, the Council of Public Relations Firms has released a report identifying the most crucial factors to business performance.

NEW YORK: In an effort to unify standards and illuminate PR's role in reputation management, the Council of Public Relations Firms has released a report identifying the most crucial factors to business performance.

NEW YORK: In an effort to unify standards and illuminate PR's role in reputation management, the Council of Public Relations Firms has released a report identifying the most crucial factors to business performance.

The study, conducted by Jeffries-Fox Associates, pinpoints nine areas that are essential in measuring reputation management: customer focus, emotional appeal, employees/workplace, financial performance, leadership, management, quality, reliability and social responsibility.

The Opinion Research Corporation currently uses all nine criteria identified by the study, and the Reputation Institute used all but one (customer focus). Fortune/Roper and Walker Information use all but two (reliability and emotional appeal).

'At a time when media scrutiny and public opinion are taking their toll on the reputations of companies and their products, there's a serious lack of understanding of the components of corporate reputation,' said Cathy Lugbauer, chair-elect of the Council.

The report also makes a distinction between corporate reputation and brand equity, pointing out that PR people relate brand equity to marketing of products and services and corporate reputation is used as a broader concept. And although the study showed the media was more likely to use brand equity, the Council said it wanted the report to help standardize industry jargon, with corporate reputation as the norm.

'We feel that PR is a good tool for building reputation,' said Council president Jack Bergen.

The study looked at seven reputation measurement systems and interviewed top communications executives of 24 major corporations.

Bergen said the study was important to help legitimize what PR people do, especially since much of it, including reputation management, is intangible.

'There's a growing recognition that that intangible is carrying a much heavier weight,' he said. 'Let's capture the moment because our job is in that world of intangibles.'

Fortune magazine's annual list of the World's Most Admired Companies, published last week, lists General Electric, Cisco Systems and Microsoft as its top three.





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