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How to improve corporate reputation

Locally many stakeholders rely on the company reputation when they make a career choice, investment or product decisions.

with WALTER MACHAKA

Corporate Reputation (CR) is the belief or opinion that is generally held about someone or something about the organisation. For example, in a well-established organisation like Econet Wireless, which is this month of July 2018 celebrating 20 years of existence, has made efforts to build a reputation based on inspiration and excellence.

However, their stakeholders look at the executive management personnel reputation and public relations management and ask: Do the executives and employees portray a favourable image to their customers and other stakeholders?

The reputation of organisations is built more on emotional factors such as admiration, trust, pride, liking and a good feeling than on rational factors such as corporate performance or quality of products or services. Clients are increasingly interested in the way large and small companies behave and call for transparency, accountability and social responsiveness. Ethics, values and stakeholder rights are buzzwords in boardrooms and business schools as clients watch a company’s behaviour before they buy products and services from it.

Emotional appeal

Emotional appeal is a logical fallacy, whereby a debater attempts to win an argument by trying to get an emotional reaction from the opponent and audience. The emotional appeal for reputation is powerfully attained through advertisements on radio, publications, outdoor advertising and television. Social responsibilities also emotionally address the reputation of an organisation to the public. For example, Zimplats’ “Friends with Albinism Campaign”, which is meant to raise awareness and protect people with albinism against discrimination and abuse in society, has achieved widespread emotional appeal on Facebook.

This emotional appeal can also be attained through customer experience. During a presentation at the Marketers’ Association of Zimbabwe (MAZ) Annual Continuous Professional Development Master Class recently, one of the speakers, Dennis Mambure, spoke on the importance of delivering customer experience that comes from the heart. It has to be genuine. Clients have to then respond by having a good feeling about an organisation and be proud of it. It is key to establish an emotional bond at every touch point — not just at the gate or at the reception.

Corporate performance

This factor deals with the assessment of the financial soundness of the organisation and the regard in which its management is held. Usually this factor works more in organisations that publish their financial statements quarterly, half-yearly or annually. Locally, companies jostle for space to publish their success stories through advertorial inserts. Clients and investors like to deal with people who perform well, so by all means blow your own trumpet.

Social engagement

The social engagement factor refers to whether the organisation supports good causes and reaches out to its social environment. The days of merely performing corporate social responsibility by pledging donations is long gone. A deeper social engagement addressing social issues within the organisation and the community it serves is needed.

Good employer

The good employer factor is the organisation’s ability to pay attention to the needs and well-being of its employees. Sound employee relations have indeed become important when an organisation is assessed by its clients and play a defining role to make an organisation attractive.

Service points

Service points refers to the functionality of an organisation’s online service delivery in terms of effectiveness, user-friendliness and ease of use. Clients expect modern technologies such as online booking facilities (in the case of airlines) and online banking facilities to be functioning smoothly. Fully functional and up-to-date point-of-service information and communication technologies are therefore important differentiators in the case of large service organisations.

Reputation is not the result of an organisation’s communication and corporate branding efforts. People form impressions and act based on limited information or the opinions of others without ever having had direct contact with the organisation. It is not factual information alone that makes clients think that they know an organisation. The media plays an important role in spreading the word about an organisation’s reputation. That is why a good reputation in the media is critical for any organisation.

l Walter G Machaka holds a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in international marketing, certificate in strategic marketing, certificate in digital marketing and certificate in sales management. He is the founder and publisher of The ZimStudent Magazine. He is the sales and marketing executive at MAZ. For feedback and comments e-mail gwaltermachaka@gmail.com or +263 779 403 068

*This article was contributed on behalf the Marketers’ Association of Zimbabwe, a leading body of marketing professionals promoting professionalism to the highest standards for the benefit of the industry and the economy at large. For any further visit the website on www.maz.co.zw or contact mazmembership@mazim.co.zw

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