The research – which is the latest step in the PRCA’s ongoing campaign to understand what reputation can really contribute to businesses – reveals that retaining better quality staff is a bigger benefit of having a good reputation than positive media.
The vast majority – 92 per cent – of PR and comms professionals cited the ability to attract quality staff as a key benefit for companies with good reputations, compared with 87 per cent who cited positive media coverage.
Other key findings included that 76 per cent of PRs believed their or their clients’ board of directors clearly saw a link between corporate reputation and financial performance, with 87 per cent stating that their CEOs were supportive of their work.
Tony Langham, vice-chairman of the PRCA’s PR Council, said: "The findings suggest that we’re on the brink of a sea change in the role of communications professionals.
"There is wide appreciation that a strong reputation achieves more than just positive media coverage and enhanced marketing – it also delivers better quality staff, the benefit of the doubt from stakeholders and greater clout with the Government. The person at C-suite level, who really gets it, is the person who matters most; the CEO."
Despite this, 83 per cent of respondents admitted that their communications teams were still measured on how much positive media coverage they were able to generate, far higher than any other metric. Furthermore, 42 per cent of respondents admitted that their social media involvement was ‘weak’ compared with their competitors.
The results also showed that despite the industry becoming increasingly digital, criticism from journalists remained the key concern for senior managers, with only three per cent of respondents agreeing that their leaders cared less about negative journalist feedback than they used to.
However, over half (54 per cent) of respondents admitted to not testing crisis comms plans, or not knowing if they had been tested, over the past 12 months.
Langham added: "The only worrying sign in the survey is the under-investment across the British industry in crisis planning and in social media. As a consequence though, both areas offer competitive advantage to those organisations that do invest."
Top seven business benefits of enhanced reputation
- Ability to recruit and retain the best staff (92 per cent)
- More positive media coverage (87 per cent)
- Greater likelihood of receiving the benefit of the doubt from stakeholders if reputational damage incurred (75 per cent)
- More effective marketing / sales activity (75 per cent)
- Higher quality commercial partnerships (65 per cent)
- Greater influence on the Government (65 per cent)
- Higher sales levels (64 per cent)