Comms leaders say protecting their brand reputation is impossible

New research highlights the difficulty comms leaders face in the evolving modern landscape of managing brand reputation.

activism protest

The vast majority of comms leaders (78%) believe that protecting and managing their brand’s reputation is impossible.

This is according to a study by crisis simulation platform provider, Conducttr, which also found that 91% of comms leaders feel the brand reputational risk landscape had changed in the past five years.

Within the report, Conducttr highlighted how technological changes have given stakeholders new powers to influence discourse around brand reputations such as fake news, conspiracy theories, and deepfakes. As such, 93% of comms leaders agreed that consumers are savvier about the power they wield over brands. Furthermore, 55% have already experienced and responded to an employee activism crisis in the past and 57% have responded to a consumer activism crisis.

Having understood the shift in power within the current reputational risk landscape, comms leaders are also aware of the difficulties for dealing with crises. A third of respondents acknowledged that a lack of understanding of the risks involved is the biggest challenge. 30% find detecting threats quick enough a challenge and 36% find responding to threats quick enough a challenge as well.

Conducttr states that comms teams are having a tougher time keeping thier brand reputations protected. In addition, simply training for crises is inefficient as forecasting and avoiding crises is just as crucial.

Robert Pratten, founder and CEO of Conducttr, said: “For comms professionals, there is an urgent need to increase experience of managing these new threats to build confidence and reduce stress. This is best done in a safe, simulated environment that can reproduce these ‘next generation’ reputational threats and their consequences in a realistic way. Far better to do this in a simulation than experience it for the first time in real life.”

With this in mind, the research revealed that comms teams are still highly confident in their skills and abilities with 97% having said that they are able to respond to digital reputational threats. However, with new threats such as deepfakes and cancel culture, 40% stated that they don’t have regular training in these areas. For the percentage that do train, 34% only have ad-hoc practices.

Conducttr gathered research data through a survey of 100 senior PR and comms professionals in major UK companies. The full report can be found on Conducttr’s website.

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