Private Equity finds the Reputation Institute: Where do you stand?

By Bill Coletti, CEO, Kith


Critical Takeaways:

·      The reputation management space is growing, and those involved should expect to evolve in order to remain both relevant and innovative.

·      Organizations in the reputation industry should expect to see increased competition and prepare accordingly.

·      The new breed of reputation management firms will offer broad suites of services including research, training, consulting and content.

Leading global corporate reputation measurement and management firm the Reputation Institute (RI) has accepted a second round of minority equity investment from New York-based growth equity firm Catalyst Investors, according to an article published last week in Reuters PE Hub with an average annual growth rate of 43 percent over the past decade in 40+ markets across the globe, RI will use the funding to gain an even greater foothold in the consulting world. So what does this mean for you? Let’s take a closer look.


Where Do You Stand?


The exponential growth of RI — and reputation management firms like it — has varying implications for different entities in the reputation management space, including the following:


Marketplace: A macro challenge for everyone looking at reputation issues is understanding and definitions. Reputation is often synonymous with Corporate Social Responsibility. That does a disservice to both. They are critically related and intertwined, but they are not the same. As I have said before being clear about a definition is critical.


“Observers’ collective judgments of a corporation based on assessments of the financial, social, and environmental impacts attributed to the corporation over time.” Corporate Reputation: The Definitional Landscape


Global PR Firms: While global PR firms have made a push to own reputation management by offering services such as Risk Intelligence or Issues Management, RI has come to play. And with research-backed and keenly-focused expertise promising new facts, perspectives and actionable insights, its offerings are expected to increasingly appeal to corporate clients. The imperative? PR firms must expand their reputation management research skills — either internally or externally — or concede.


Corporations: While past reputation management offerings may have included solid research and ideas, they may also have lacked frontline experience, case studies, and real world insights. RI’s consulting and advisory services represent an unprecedented comprehensive option that corporate clients will clearly seek out.


Reputation Consultants: Reputation consultants can give themselves a quick pat on the back, but don’t kick back just yet. The challenge moving forward? Evaluating how clients will act when research insights and execution expertise are available from one entity – in a very buttoned up management-consulting package. Delivery of this type of package will be understood and valued by the non-externally ocused C-Suite stakeholders (CFO, operations, HR). Theoretical observations are not enough to counter political imbroglios, while sweeping platitudes make big promises but don’t deliver. There’s no room for non-bottomline consultants in today’s fast-paced climate.


Training and Niche Content Service Providers: While these professionals will continue to find opportunities in the large and growing market, they should also be prepared for greater competition and reach from the new breed of reputation management firms offering a broader suite of services, including training, simulations and content that will streamline purchase decisions.


Academia: The positive impacts of past research and resulting validation of reputation management add up to a future in which research will be increasingly in demand. Questions about the public’s appetite for corporate “reputation” messages and how decisions are accepted and interpreted by individual stakeholders will continue to guide research and reveal trends as reputation consulting services expand.


While the business world is anything but static, this is a particularly dynamic time for those in and around the reputation management sphere. Organizations like RI aren’t going anywhere. The most successful entities will acknowledge their growing impact and proactively evolve to remain both relevant and innovative.


Who else is impacted by a focused attention on Reputation Management?


In 5-10 years who will be the winner and losers in the ownership of Reputation Management?