Kommunikationsmanagement im Wandel
Prof. Dr. Miriam Meckel ist Geschäftsführende Direktorin des Instituts für Medien und Kommunikationsmanagement (MCM) der Universität St. Gallen.
Prof. Dr. Beat F. Schmid ist Direktor des Instituts für Medien und Kommunikationsmanagement (MCM) der Universität St. Gallen.
Kommunikationsmanagement im Wandel
Corporate Branding and Issues Management - Integrating Two Concepts to Enhance Corporate Reputation (S. 249-251)
Issues management can help to meet important challenges which companies face by managing their corporate brand. Firstly, issues management helps to identify issues that are of particular relevance to corporate stakeholders in order to strengthen the corporate brand identity. Secondly, it can enhance integrated communication by supporting internal coordination processes. Those contributions of issues management to corporate branding are important to strengthen the corporate reputation.
We present findings from a qualitative study on the issues management practice of eleven multinationals. The results show that the importance of issues management for proactive corporate brand and reputation building is acknowledged. However, only few firms have actually implemented adequate processes and structures to support corporate branding with the help of issues management. Suggestions for potential improvement are discussed.
In an environment where the focus on corporate behaviour has increased, largely triggered by transgressions of firms such as Tyco, Enron or Worldcom, and where the competition for the attention of those the company aims to reach via communication is fierce, systematically planned and implemented corporate communication processes ought to be considered a crucial necessity. In fact, it has been argued that the role of corporate communication and corporate branding has become more important than ever (Schultz and Kitchen, 2004, van Riel, 1997). Corporate branding has been defined as "a systematically planned and implemented process of creating and maintaining a favourable reputation of the company with its constituent elements, by sending signals to stakeholders using the corporate brand" (van Riel, 2001: 13).
It requires that the company takes a holistic approach to brand management and that all of its members behave in accordance with the desired brand identity (Harris and DeChernatony, 2001). Branding of the company as a whole, corporate branding, is therefore not the duty of marketing alone. It is rather a holistic concept that involves marketing, corporate communication as well as strategic management (Tomczak et al., 2001). It has been argued that the corporate reputation, which corporate branding aims to create and maintain, potentially leads to competitive advantage (Barney, 1991, Hall, 1993) and that it will even become the biggest factor in consumer choice (Eales, 1990, Melewar and Saunders, 2000).
Corporate reputation can be perceived as a representative evaluation of a corporate brand's identity by the firm's stakeholders (DeChernatony and Harris, 2000). Stakeholders are individuals or groups who contribute to the firm's wealth-creating capacity and activities and who are its potential beneficiaries and/or risk bearers (Post et al., 2002). Depending on the type of organization those often include customers and consumers, shareholders, employees, business partners and a host of other groups. It is important that a firm considers all corporate stakeholders in its strategy and communication, and not just selected ones like customers or shareholders (e.g., Schultz and Kitchen, 2004).
We consider two aspects particularly important for effective corporate branding and reputation building with regard to a firm's stakeholders: Firstly, the messages a firm chooses to send in connection with the corporate brand have to be of relevance and interest for their stakeholders. It has been shown in an advertising context that the relevance of the message for its recipients is particularly important for communication effectiveness (Li et al., 2002).