Barclays' Doherty says behavior is key to reputation

LONDON: Reputation is based on a company's behavior and not its communications, Barclays' head of communications, Stephen Doherty, told PR industry representatives on Friday.

LONDON: Reputation is based on a company's behavior and not its communications, Barclays' head of communications, Stephen Doherty, told PR industry representatives on Friday.

Speaking at the UK Public Relations Consultants Association conference on Friday, Doherty said that Barclays' actions over the next ten years are what stakeholders will judge.

“My job is to get people to notice the evidence base,” he said. “Without an evidence base, I'm toast.”

Doherty added that reputation is based on high-quality relationships with stakeholders, saying Barclays group CEO Antony Jenkins understands reputation.

“He made it his corporate goal to have the highest-quality stakeholder relationships possible,” he said. “If you get to a position where you have trust, commercial success will take care of itself.”

Diageo corporate relations director Ian Wright agreed that stakeholder relations were key to a good reputation. Both Wright and Doherty explained that reputation targets were part of the performance indicators for important executives.

Wright also argued that because reputation is based on action, which happens at a local level, “all reputations are local. There is no such thing as a global reputation.”

“It's important to think of reputation where you're doing business,” he said. “You build up reputation with lots of incremental steps. We were the most admired company in the UK in 2012-13 in Management Today, but we do have places in the world with a bad reputation.”

The talks followed a discussion of PRCA-commissioned YouGov research that highlighted the importance of finding metrics to measure PR activity. Lansons Communications chief executive Tony Langham, who chaired a panel discussion of the research, said “there is a dichotomy, because we have to have metrics, but it's a challenge to prove the impact it has on the bottom line.”

Also at the conference, Alex Aiken, executive director for government communications, said the UK's government is ready to support the industry and promote London as a leading center of the world's communications industries.

He outlined plans to improve government comms, including forming a single government communications service early next year and becoming 10% more efficient every year by pooling and sharing resources.

The conference also included a discussion of a PRCA study on the agency of the future, which predicted more integrated communications and the need to offer more evidence of ROI as important issues facing agencies.

This story originally appeared on the website of PRWeek UK.

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