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Reputation: Risk of risks

modern risk environment, companies of all sizes agree in the low priority they give to buzz issues such as establishing relationships with pressure groups and setting out public standards on environmental, human rights and labour practices.

although 32% consult them at least once a year. Local and international NGOs are also sidelined, ignored by 32% and 42%, respectively. Once again, however, a substantial minority do seek out their opinion on a regular basis.

Matter of opinion

When it comes to reputation, all opinions matter, but do some matter more than others? Our survey suggests strongly that they do.

Of all respondents, 60% test the perceptions of customers at least quarterly, and 40% say they do so continuously. Only 4% say that they have never taken the pulse of customer opinion. Regulators’ views are also sought relatively frequently—at least quarterly by 51%, although only 23% say they continuously survey regulator opinion. The influence of the media on organisations’ reputation is also recognised, with 58% saying they test opinion among this group at least once a year.

Political activists are ignored by 46% in our sample,

Again, sectoral splits reveal some interesting variations. Customer opinion is generally given the highest priority, but this is not the case in the energy sector, where the powerful influence of regulators sets a premium on their views of the organisation. In this group, 45% continuously monitor regulator opinion, and a further 35% do so at least once a year. Customers and government are next on the list, but political activists and NGOs are consulted rarely, if at all.

In the financial sector, customers and the regulator are polled systematically—at least once a year by 80% in the case of the former and by 75% in the case of the latter. But the frequency of monitoring varies sharply, with customers courted more assiduously; 45% of respondents say they monitor customer opinion constantly, but only 26% monitor the opinion of the regulator.

How often do you test perceptions of your company among the following corporate stakeholders? (% respondents)

Customers

Continuously

40

6

At leastonce a month

At least four times a year

Once a year

14

20

Only occasionally in the past

16

Never

4

Regulators

23

9

19

18

16

14

Media groups

18

10

14

16

19

24

Government

15 7

14

17

24

23

Local non-governmental organisations

7

6

11

15

27

32

Political activists/pressure groups

5

5

7

15

23

46

International non-governmental organisations

5

4

8

16

25

42

Source: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2005

© The Economist Intelligence Unit 2005

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