Reputation: With or Without You Survey insights in the form of five principles for building and protecting your reputation in the “always-on” world

Staff capabilities, resources and organisational culture are the top three reasons holding back Europe’s largest companies from embracing the “always on” communication landscape, according to a new report published today by MSLGROUP, one of the world’s top five global PR consultancies.

In the report “Reputation: With or Without You”, which surveyed senior communication directors of 100 leading organisations in the EMEA region, 85% of respondents agreed that the reputational consequences of their mistakes have become more serious with the free flow of digital information brought about by social media.

Despite this threat, 79% of those surveyed view social media as a clear opportunity to build better relationships with key stakeholders. In fact, only 5% of respondents view social media as a clear threat.

The survey finds that companies are coming across a number of cultural and organisational barriers when trying to adapt to the needs of the new media landscape. IT systems are lagging behind, without the necessary mobile technology to engage with the new channels, and a lack of buy-in from senior management remains.

Staff are seen as both a challenge and an opportunity: On the one hand, 75% of companies are hesitant to grant their employees the license to comment on social channels in an official capacity for fear of losing control. On the other, 77% of the companies surveyed recognise that they could overcome the barriers by empowering employees, beyond the communications team, to become external advocates on social media as long as clear training and guidelines are adopted.

Anders Kempe, President, EMEA, MSLGROUP, said: “The new 24/7 ‘always-on’ landscape is an opportunity for communications directors to build their brand and corporate reputations and to redefine their value in the eyes of their superiors through more data driven reporting. However, it will be a challenge to fulfil these expectations if communications capabilities are not properly resourced and managed.”

“Communications managers must knit the newer skills of often much younger employees with the experience of the more senior members of their teams. In a communications environment that is moving faster than ever through more channels than ever, to more audiences than ever, devising appropriate advisory and permissions procedures will be crucial.”

To help organisations embrace the opportunity and threats presented by digital and social media, MSLGROUP’s“Reputation: With or Without You” report recommends action in four areas:

  1. Design a robust online monitoring and analysis regime to engage in the conversations that are happening around your business or brand.
  2. Marry deep subject matter expertise with technical savvy to develop a “content engine” to sustain conversations, and then experiment with tone and approach across channels.
  3. The conversations about your business or brand are happening online whether you want them to or not. Overcome cultural conservatism and engage on digital and social channels.
  4. Knock down internal communications silos and embrace the quicker pace of communications in an environment of increased transparency. Share knowledge and passport to engage in public, if not official, company communications.

The report can be downloaded for free at: Reputation: With or Without You by MSLGROUP

Reputation: With or Without You