Emblems and shortcuts: Rethinking corporate reputation research

Graeme Trayner
Brunswick Research

Introduction

With public relations gaining ground over traditional channels such as advertising, and growing in relevance with the diffusion of media channels and an increased reliance on word of mouth, opinion research has the scope and opportunity to become the hub of inspiration for corporate communications.

Opinion research and corporate communications are in fact natural bedfellows. In essence, corporate communications centres on building and maintaining a company's profile with its followers, and revolves around the concept of protecting reputation — arguably a company's most valuable yet almost intangible asset. At its best, opinion research can enable companies to be reflexive, to act and respond to both marked changes and nuanced shifts in opinion and to inform strategy.

However, in spite of the obvious synergies between the fields, the relationship in the UK market between corporate communications and opinion research has been too limited. In comparison with advertising and marketing, there is no embedded culture of insight within public relations and corporate communications. Yet, market trends and societal developments mean that there is a huge opportunity for researchers to help corporate communicators meet new challenges.