Influence communication: the link between Brand Reputation and CSR
The link between brand reputation and corporate social responsibility
When implementing a company’s communication, several data, several objectives, several aims must be taken into account. The communication manager within a company, the communication manager or managers, depending on the size of the company, is the one who has the role of successfully mixing all these data, objectives and aims. But in an age of social networks and the Internet, in our workplaces and private lives, information has never circulated so quickly. And even if a company were to succeed in finding a balance between all the elements mentioned above, today new details are emerging, and consumer perception in the light of the Internet is no longer the same. A consumer complaint can travel around the world in a matter of minutes. Samsung learned this at its own expense after a video posted in China about one of the brand’s phone models catching fire. This video was widely relayed, and the Korean household appliance giant had to set up a crisis communication campaign to match the scandal.
Clearly, and beyond what we have just mentioned, companies are now facing real changes in the transmission of information and the quality of their communication policy. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), influential communication, digital reputation… All these new terms make corporate communication more complicated.
What exactly do these new realities inherent in corporate communication consist of? What are the ins and outs of corporate social responsibility, influential communication and a company’s reputation towards its customers? What are the solutions to share all these notions? All the answers to these questions in the following lines.
Some explanations to get started
Before getting to the heart of the matter, let us take the time to consider the concepts mentioned in the introduction to this article. Corporate social responsibility, communication of influence, reputation, these terms may already be very clear in your mind but, for the sake of consistency and precision, we prefer to give you some elements of definition before going into our subject in more depth. This will make it easier to understand what is said in the following lines.
– CSR :
Corporate Social Responsibility is, according to a government definition, a concept in which companies must integrate all the concerns inherent in the social, environmental and economic aspects of their activities. The general interaction with all the company’s stakeholders is also something that is part of the company’s social responsibility. The term “stakeholder” is understood to mean all actors having a contractual or non-contractual relationship with the company (customers, subcontractors, suppliers, media, etc.). More simply, and in an attempt to summarize, corporate social responsibility is the contribution of companies to the challenges of sustainable development.
– Influential communication:
Influence is characterized by an intentional or unintentional influence on another individual or individuals. A company, as part of its communication, can have a definite influence which will then aim to change consumer behavior and actions. A company can acquire this influence in several ways: advertisements made with the help of one or more opinion leaders, communication targeted on social networks, social commitment to defend a cause or an association… Through all its actions, the company can, therefore, have an influence. Be careful, however, to note that this influence is not necessarily positive and that it can very quickly run counter to the interests and goals pursued by the company.
Whether virtual or not, a company’s reputation is characterized by the general perception that consumers have of the company in question. Is the company close to its customers, is it committed to defending several causes, is it at the origin of the design of products that respect the environment and the expectations of each customer? All these questions are raised in the customer’s mind, and a good reputation allows an affirmative answer.
The link between brand reputation and corporate social responsibility in the context of influential communication
As you will have understood from the previous paragraphs, corporate communication has recently been enriched with new concepts and new criteria to be taken into account to be effective and above all efficient. This idea is much more important if we look at what happens in the context of influential communication. In the past, to successfully reach the consumer, a targeted promotional campaign where money was significantly committed could be successful.
The means were simple, but the efficiency achieved was much more significant than today, the returns on investment were certain. Today, it is essential to think about all the aspects of a communication campaign as consumer reactions have evolved. A poorly chosen term, a complex visual communication, an inadequate consideration of the habits and expectations of local consumers and failure. There are many failures regarding communication, they have multiplied in recent years, and they make it possible to understand what not to do when taking into account these new concepts of corporate social responsibility, corporate reputation, and communication of influence. But a question may then arise: is there a real link, in the context of the implementation of influential communication, between corporate social responsibility and a company’s reputation? Is it essential to think one without thinking the other? That will be the whole purpose of this part.
Corporate social responsibility has emerged as a central concept in the evaluation of the quality of a communication policy because it incorporates a dimension that is now essential to the life and development of a company. The consideration of stakeholders, the relationship with these stakeholders, the attention of the environmental aspect and sustainable development in the context of the company’s activity… All these elements were, until now, absent or very poorly represented in the implementation of communication policy. Only a few associations present at the international level managed to get the community to react to serious cases, but these awareness has always been scattered and not very specific. Corporate social responsibility, evaluated by major global bodies, now makes it possible to take these new dimensions into account and add them to the evaluation of companies. Thus, a company with poor corporate social responsibility may well see its results decline. And it is on this essential point that it is interesting to reflect: with consumers increasingly keen to focus their attention on the environment, on the quality of the products and services offered, is the corporate social responsibility not the best indicator to provide them with so that they can learn more about companies? Wouldn’t corporate social responsibility ultimately condition a brand’s reputation? And the answer is yes!
There are many, diverse and varied examples to highlight the link between corporate social responsibility and corporate reputation. Take Apple, the company that is the right one when you want to emphasize the good and bad sides of a large company. Thanks to its success, the brand is now present in all four corners of the globe and sells its products on a huge scale. Until now, this success has been inexhaustible. But that was without counting on a worldwide scandal that appeared a few years ago, when public opinion discovered that the American company was having all its equipment produced in Chinese factories, under almost illegal working conditions. A good crisis communication could have allowed the American company to get out of this unfortunate situation in no time, and without any problems. This was without counting on several government organizations that, neither one nor two, lowered the company’s rating in the rankings on corporate social responsibility and respect for human rights. A reaction that made consumers aware of the scale of this scandal. The results were not long in coming: the apple firm saw its turnover fall in the following year.
Towards an increasingly complex business communication to realize and implement?
The example of Apple, and many others that it would be too long and tedious to mention as well allows us to understand that, from now on, the management of a company’s communication no longer takes into account consumers’ expectations. From now on, all ecological, ethical and legal dimensions must be taken into account for the most effective communication possible. Without this consideration, companies cannot claim communication that affects consumers and encourages them to consume more and use the same company’s products or services.
As a company manager or executive, you must therefore think of your company’s communication as the result of a global reflection on all the dimensions in which your company is involved. If your company has several employees whose primary function is to establish your communication, do not hesitate to inform them of the importance of taking all these dimensions into account. Without this hindsight, without this consideration, your company, and your team dedicated to communication, cannot achieve their objectives. It is therefore up to you to conduct an in-depth reflection, whatever the means at your disposal and whatever your company’s current policy. The future success of your communication depends on it.
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