Communication professionals use numerous and multifaceted rationales to explain the value of their work. These range from building reputation and brands to boosting sales and fostering employee motivation. However, communicators seldom share a consistent understanding of the multiple dimensions of communication value. In order to foster a consistent understanding, we have developed a new interdisciplinary framework that has successfully been tested and applied in practice.
is the attitude of employees towards their employer. Typically, employees with high commitment identify themselves strongly with the goals, values, and norms of an organization. Strong commitment relates to increased satisfaction, engagement and motivation, as well as more efficient internal processes and lower employee turnover rates.
preferences include attitudes or opinions towards a product, service, brand or company held by (prospective) customers. Preference is often based on previous experiences. High customer satisfaction typically leads to customer loyalty and product repurchase. Satisfied customers are also more likely to recommend products to their peers and influence their preferences.
emphasizes the importance of visibility for any organization. Media publicity facilitates the process through which key stakeholders learn about the organization’s products, services and unique characteristics e.g. as employers. Some organizations might also be interested in staying away from public debates, and so avoiding publicity can be a goal for communications as well.
is a generalized collective perception of an organization of multiple stakeholders. As such, reputation is formed externally and is based on subjective impressions and expectations about the organization’s future behavior. The corporate image in contrast is more based on a temporary, often intuitive assessment, while reputation is more enduring.
Reputation can have a positive impact on overall financial performance or purchase intentions of potential customers and serve as a buffering shield in crises.
are mental pictures of an organization or their products/ services held by its stakeholders. They serve different purposes such as identification and differentiation. Brands are valuable immaterial assets and help companies to distinguish themselves from their competitors. Brands engender trust in the consumer, which typically results in brand loyalty and brand preference. Strong brands can command a higher price, boost sales and market share.
is a collection of key values, symbols, meanings, beliefs, assumptions and expectations that organizational members share. Culture is how things get done and how employees feel about the company. It is created, sustained and changed by all members of the organization and may be split into subcultures. A strong corporate culture is typically related to higher productivity, lower employee turnover rates, and higher attractiveness for potential employees.
is the practice of positioning the organization as an opinion leader of new, compelling and innovative ideas in a community of interest. Thought leaders provide new information, analysis and insights that help others to make sense of today’s complex world and better understand the future. Thought leadership helps organizations to raise awareness, increase the status of their brand or reputation, and recognition by other influential opinion leaders such as political or regulatory institutions.
potential is the ability to identify opportunities for new products and services and understand trends and ideas. These insights can be used in a strategic manner to initiate or support innovative business models and functional strategies. Innovation potential can be fostered by a communication culture that promotes creativity and openness among employees and is capable of coping with constant change. Communications can also support innovation potential by identifying and attracting external partners, e.g. in open innovation processes.
is the ability to identify and monitor emergent critical issues, which may threaten an organization’s people, assets or reputation, and utilize these insights systematically for crisis anticipation and prevention. Issues management and integrated monitoring or listening systems help to identify issues at an early stage, whereas crisis management plans enable to respond quickly and effectively to any incident.
relates to the long-term ability of organizations to act in a manner that is consistent with socially accepted norms, values, commonly held beliefs and stakeholder expectations. Organizations that are perceived as legitimate safeguard their license to operate. Their ability to survive critical situations is increased. While reputation emphasizes the differences to other organizations, legitimacy emphasizes the attempt of organizations to resemble societal norms and similarities with other organizations.
KPIs: e.g. perceived appropriateness of corporate actions, support from key stakeholders such as owners and governing bodies, confidence in the organization's responsibility for society or the environment, acceptance Quotient.
Research tools and methods: e.g. public opinion polls, stakeholder analyses, social media analyses.
is the level of confidence in the organization’s ability to do what it says it will do and that it will act consistently and dependably. Trust is closely related to credibility and integrity. Trust replaces control in an unstable world and is important for future-oriented decisions.
are the state or ties that exist between an organization and its key stakeholders and are intricately interwoven with dimensions such as trust or satisfaction. Beneficial relationships with investors, journalists, employees and critical stakeholders may serve as a buffering shield in crisis situations and safeguard the organization’s room for action. High quality relationships with customers are a key success factor, often managed via Customer Relationship Management systems.
1) Enabling operations
3) Ensuring flexibility
2) Building intangibles
4) Adjusting strategy