Of a company’s most valuable assets, its reputation is among the hardest to build and the easiest to lose. Reputation is also no longer merely a question of brand image and visibility, or “looking good” while dealing with major corporate crises. The other side of reputation is about protecting against the loss of the valuable intangible assets that companies build up over time, such as trust, loyalty and good relationships with stakeholders. Leading global companies are coming to realize that they will be in a much better position to manage change and challenges – financial as well as social and environmental – if they have invested in their relationships with their stakeholders. This means building trust, loyalty, commitment to values, and transparency. However, companies should also reflect on why a good reputation is important to them, who the reputation is aimed at (which stakeholders) and for what purpose (how do they aim to influence stakeholder behavior). Wasting time on the “wrong” stakeholders, such as the media and isolated high‐profile campaign groups, can be as bad as making no effort at all. Consequently, this article focuses not only on the drivers behind the increasing importance of reputation management in our global society, but will also address how companies should take up this challenge.
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