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Digital Reputation Management 101

Mar. 11, 2018 9:47 AM ET1 Comment

By Sameer S. Somal, CFA

Identity will be the most valuable commodity for citizens in the future, and it will exist primarily online.” — Eric Schmidt

Reputation is everything.

Many of the opportunities presented to us come based on our reputations.

Yet reputation is an intangible, ambiguous, and complex concept. It involves impressions, emotions, and perceptions encompassing the estimation in which a business, person, or thing is held by a specific group or the public at large.

Businesses grow and succeed through their reputations. A digital presence and online communication strategy are not just part of a company’s reputation, they form the firm’s foundation — the most critical component to its survival and growth.

But compared with traditional brand marketing, digital reputation management is a new frontier where applicable guidance and proven research are in limited supply.

Almost two decades ago, Mark Bunting and Roy Lipski proposed that online perception and opinion, regardless of its accuracy, have as great an effect on a company’s reputation as the company’s actions. These perceptions, quickly formed and shared across myriad traditional and digital platforms, create both reputational opportunities and challenges.

Search Reputation Visual

Image courtesy of Blue Ocean Global Technology

How much is a reputation worth?

Today, we interact with friends, family, and colleagues largely through text messages, email, and social media, where perception and reality are often confused. So both digital and in-person first impressions are critical.

Traditional financial education supplies a comprehensive framework for understanding the valuation of tangible assets, including the value of public and private companies. Portfolio managers and analysts make investment decisions after thorough research into a firm’s fundamentals. However, the subjective valuation of the firm’s intangibles — brand equity, relationship capital, patents, and, of course, reputation, among them — creates a larger challenge.

Burson-Marsteller, a leading global public relations and

This article was written by

CFA Institute is a global community of more than 100,000 investment professionals working to build an investment industry where investors’ interests come first, financial markets function at their best, and economies grow.

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