Reputation management as a discipline is often concerned with immediate challenges – building a company's presence in real time while also addressing potential risks that are constantly threatening an organisation's standing.
However, the communications and corporate affairs function is also one that is going through substantial changes that will affect the long-term composition of the profession.
What will the communications profession look like in the future?
A recent study has considered how these existing trends are set to shape the profession over the long term. Conducted by the Reputation Institute, the study considered how the reputation management landscape will look in 2020.
The study identified 10 trends that will be driving reputational risk management in the future. These ranged from buy-in at the C-Suite level through to the mainstream adoption of personalisation and an increasing focus on the standing of whole industries, as well as individual companies.
A company's reputation will also underpin other core business objectives, such as their ability to recruit the right candidates, according to the Vice Chairman of Reputation Institute, Cees Van Riel.
"In 2020, having an exceptional corporate reputation will be more important than ever," stated Mr Van Riel. "The war for talent, in particular, will mean that companies will need to have strong reputations to attract the best workforce. And that goes hand‐in‐hand with the need for companies to explain their societal relevance."
While these specific changes are going to change the way organisations perform, there are also broader sea changes occurring in the sector.
The MSLGroup, for example, predicts that future reputation management will require companies to be led by a strong purpose that their reputation is then built around. This will also need to be supported by investment in corporate social responsibility efforts and similar methods.
Likewise, companies are facing new stakeholders that need to be managed. As well as the general public and media relations, organisations will increasingly need to look at how they are engaging with 'influencers' like bloggers as well as past, present and future employees.
How are companies responding?
While the future is hard to predict, especially within reputation management, companies are already pursuing strategies to cope with these changes.
One of these is by adjusting the amount they are spending in this area. According to a study from Deloitte and Forbes, 57 per cent of companies are planning to increase spending to match the increased reputational risk they face.
While major changes will continue to shape the corporate affairs profession in unpredictable ways, these findings certainly point to some of the core developments that will be driving the function in the future.