Collapse in global confidence highlights reputation red flag for businesses worldwide

Role of influencers and confidence in media impact highlight continued need to focus on education and core skills

Latest research identifies a collapse in global business confidence

CEO confidence is plummeting worldwide according to a new global study, The Worldcom Confidence Index published this week. The report has highlighted that confidence levels across a range of business and communications issues have dropped by over 20% since last year.

Alongside revelations of low confidence in the ability to deal with regulatory changes, global tariff issues and employee related worries, are stark findings highlighting risks around managing and protecting reputation. Fuelling this seems to be a lack of confidence in the ability to engage with influencers and media to do this.

The study, commissioned by the Worldcom Public Relations Group a leading global partnership of independent public relations firms, is an analysis of online content from more than 58,000 chief executive and chief marketing officers that used innovative artificial intelligence to track and interpret publicly available social media content. It covers the subjects that these groups are willing and able to talk about online, raising some new and recurring challenges for marketers and communicators to address.

Socio-economic forces such as impending global recession may be amplifying these concerns and making business leaders examine their ability to effectively prepare and manage communications during a crisis.

Rhodri Harries, Managing Director of Kaizo, a UK partner of Worldcom said:

“Political, economic and social issues are gripping the corporate agenda and brand managers, corporate communications functions and agencies need to act now. Global leaders are more than a little concerned about their corporate image, brand reputation and their ability to protect it in a crisis, and it’s time to address this.”

“There needs to be greater focus on proactive campaigning to support rigorous, tested, systems to highlight potential risks.”

The report also shows an increasing source of concern around the impact that influencers and media can have on a brand and CEO’s confidence in their company’s ability to manage the effect they have.

While influencers are ranked as the most important audience in the study, there is little confidence in effectively reaching and mobilising them. The global insights showed a real gap in terms of a business’s ability to communicate effectively with influencers or meet their needs to have the right impact for the brand.

Rhodri Harries, continued:

“There seems to be a clear opportunity to help educate some CEOs and CMOs on the role an influencer can and should play, and how to work with them in a collaborative and effective way. Especially as influencers play an important role in balancing public opinion in a crisis, as well as advocating a company’s products and services, and enhancing its brand’s reputation.”

Perhaps more concerning in the study’s results is the lack of confidence global leaders still have in the media, a channel they are generally more familiar with, in terms of creating the right impact for their businesses.  Leaders are more confident in their abilities to reach shareholders, customers, suppliers, and even government officials than they are the media. The recent renaissance of traditional PR skills in terms of media relations is clearly set to continue as brands need to focus on core values and reputation and how these play out in the news.

UK partners in Worldcom include Kaizo, JBP PR, Onva and FWD.

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