Corporate Reputation

Shaping your corporate narrative with data-driven insights

Great storytelling will achieve an impactful connection with your audiences. All too often, organisations will bury themselves in jargon or deliver messages that do not land well with stakeholders. Seasoned communications practitioners will already know that simplicity of message is about ‘accessibility of the message’, and that’s not the same as dumbing things down.

In a world where external communication is digested and amplified in seconds rather than days, it is increasingly important to get your corporate storytelling right the first time. So where should organisations start when developing their corporate narrative? And is it possible to limit the risk of getting things wrong or not having the desired impact?

Getting your direction of travel right

“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”1 That’s particularly important when managing corporate reputation and which messages land with your audience that counts.

When communicating to a wide range of audiences – whether it’s the investor community, industry analysts, employees, customers or media outlets, they can be easily become siloed or often miss the mark. A fundamental challenge is balancing different perceptions and priorities from these groups with a singular and clear story reflective of the organisation’s core purpose.

To achieve this, the first step is understanding what each audience thinks and feels – and how they are expressing this both on- and offline.

Traditional research techniques like surveys and interviews have a key role to play in informing narrative development. However, tapping into unprompted audience conversation happening in the public domain offers a critical additional perspective. Sources like media, online conversation, government debates, academic journals, and analyst reports can bring valuable additional insights, when they are looked at in the right way.

By bringing these sources together and applying Natural Language Processing (NLP) methods, we can measure sentiment, group together topics of concern, and identify the individuals and organisations influencing conversations. This type of analysis bridges the gap between what is being said through formal channels such as press releases and corporate statements – and what is being expressed in the public domain by interested parties. These broad and quantified audience insights provide a guiding light for a narrative by identifying the audience needs it should fundamentally address.

De-risking through message testing

In critical situations, there is only one chance to get messaging right – so it is important to mitigate the risk of communications landing badly or not cutting through. There are a few ways of pre-testing messaging for corporate narratives – harnessing a range of research, data science and analytics techniques. Whichever method you choose, there are a few considerations in the final stages of narrative development:

  1. Are we responding to audience needs, expectations and priorities?
  2. Is our messaging credible given our organisation’s operations, policies and stated purpose?
  3. Is our messaging in line with our current external environment and societal and political trends?
  4. Do we know that the language we are using is relevant to our audiences?
  5. Do we have a plan to measure the success of the communication?
  6. What are the likely risks of getting your communication wrong?

The days of communicating in an ad hoc manner and hoping things land well are limited. Through the application of big data analytics and AI algorithms, organizations are discovering key influencers. Data-driven insights can help put a checkmark next to these questions. Alongside well-honed human expertise, this can optimise and de-risk corporate narratives – and ensure the best possible landing for your communications.



1 Quote by Peter Drucker, one of the most widely-known and influential thinkers on management. Source.

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