The 7 pillars of reputation management

• 8 minute read
Media Monitoring, Reputation Management
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The base of reputation management starts with good monitoring: mapping, protecting and improving online reputation. Therefore you must clearly define what you need monitoring and which information is important for your organization?

Just as important is making sure the information is brought to the attention of the right people in an understandable and feasible manner. An efficient and effective information stream leads to awareness and(when necessary) action.

Structurally building on your online reputation is only possible by ensuring your information reaches the right people at the right time. As reputation specialist for Buzzcapture, I often notice that there is a need for guidance from our customers, to be able to put their reputation on the map. Which metrics should I use? How often should I measure? How do I thoroughly frame the information regarding my reputation? This article therefore highlights how to find a valid way to identify your (online and offline) reputation in the media.

The question regarding the mapping is not only focussed on the how, but also where do I start? Within your information as a brand, you not only have to deal with messages from consumers on social media on a daily basis, but also on new sites, blogs and in newspapers and magazines. You have to throw all the acquired information onto a big pile to be able to map your reputation. Subsequently you put this information aside in a number of pillars, which guarantee the reputation of a brand.

The most common method for measuring your reputation is the RepTrak© method (or the seven pillars reputation) set by the reputation institute. This model is based on seven dimensions and 23 attributes from which an organization is assessed. All these elements together form a reputation score.

The pillars externally measure which images fit the targeted audience regarding diverse categories to do with your organization. Beside consumers, opinions from important stakeholders are taken into consideration.


  1. Products or services
    Quality of products or services offered by a company is discussed in this pillar. This involves looking at the price/quality ratio, whether or not the offer is convincing and whether it meets the consumer’s needs.

    Within this dimension, Intel, Lego and Canon are all in the top 10 of organizations scoring high (2015). All containing convincing products based on price/quality ratio.

  2. Innovation
    Is your company being seen as an inventive, progressive organization? Does it have a quickly adaptive capability within market developments?

    An organization that often pioneers with innovative products or services will score highly on this pillar.

  3. Working environment
    Are employees being rewarded for their hard work in the organization? Important arguments to take into consideration are employee welfare and development opportunities.

    Winning awards around employment can contribute towards this. Not surprisingly, Google is an organization which scores high on this reputation pillar. The way in which they design their offices contributes to their employee welfare.

  4. Governance
    The governance pillar is all about openness and transparency of the organization.

    Part of this is conducting ethically proclaimed behavior and honest business.

  5. Citizenship
    Environmental awareness, corporate social responsibility and social influence fall under citizenship.

    What kind of (positive) influence does the organization have towards society?

  6. Leadership
    Is an organization well organized? How good is management? Do they have a clear vision and show appealing leadership?

    An organization led by a CEO with a good role model status will score highly with this.

  7. Achievements
    The last dimension is about financial achievements of a company.

    Profit, achieving above expectation and a strong growth in number of customers are all points taken in to consideration when measuring this pillar.


All 7 pillars are measurable through interviews or questionnaires, like for example done by the Reputation Institute, but it is also possible to measure through social media channels. Social media expressions are especially suitable for this; many opinions are made through social media. News sourced content is often more nuanced. The arguments are put beside an opinion to judge whether support or criticism are expressed about one of these dimensions. This method mostly gives long-term insight, on a monthly or quarterly basis, since daily opinions can’t be found on all dimensions.



The next step is to fit the pillars to your brand. For example, the interpretation of the pillar ‘citizenship’ differs for every organization. It can occur that you, as a supplier, have initiatives for working in an environmentally friendly manner or for giving back to the community. These initiatives all have a different name or description. ING for example uses the ING Chances for Children Program, Schiphol Airport is fully switching to green power by 2017 and KLM supports the establishment of a European Emissions Trading System, which can be used by the aviation industry to trade emission rights allowances.

By way of example the following terms will guarantee the ‘Citizenship’ pillar when being called a brand by social media, or even on the news. Using one of these terms influences your reputation in relation to citizenship:

charity fund, charity, charities, donate, donations, donating, human rights, social responsibility, does not invest in companies, code of conduct, codes of conduct, social media washing, CSR, corporate social responsibility, care for the environment, social investment, chances for Children, green power, emission system

By constructing a search query for each pillar, you can summarize your reputation in that area. When you structurally (for example monthly) keep an eye on how often you are associated with certain terms within a specific pillar, you will know whether or not you are doing well in that area. The query above is an example, but in practice these queries are taken a lot broader. Mapping your reputation, and making your queries, requires a large amount of care, to map your reputation in a valid manner.


By structurally using these pillars, you know the extent to which you are associated with, within certain themes. Even more important is to take this with you for a longer period of time. This way you can see whether your effort around the campaign, focusing on growing a certain mindset, is successful within the range of customers. Or whether you need to gothe extra mile for it.

The tool keeps track of the schedule for you, and all data is saved internally. This way you can refer back to stored data for up to six years. In a monitoring tool you can, for example, evaluate how often there has been mention about reputation pillars, and what exactly has been said. You can combine this towards your future analysis or strategy.

Experience shows that a large percentage of our customers document what is said within Q1, and compares whether or not there is progress in Q2. If that’s not the case, action is taken. This way your tool offers more than just insight in what is said, It offers guidance and a base for strategizing important insights into the reputation of your brand, and registering whether or not there is a gap between image and identity.

Visualizing change
Not only is it possible to measure your efforts this way, but also to visualize changes on a monthly basis. As a brand you can prepare yourself for a crisis by closely monitoring these changes. When noticing more and more people associating your brand with negative mindset regarding governance, as a communication manager you need to start understanding why. You may have to look internally for advice, and consult information to prepare a statement, or to take action to steer your reputation back into the right lane.

By betting on active (social) media monitoring, you are not only aware of what is going on as a brand, but in the long-term you learn your strengths and weaknesses and how to steer your reputation this way. Therefore you need to take from your tool what you can. The perception of the consumer and the media is your reputation and it offers valuable guidance for expansion of branding strategies.

“If you, as a company,do not speak the language of the ultimate consumer (customer), then you are completely wrong. Social media monitoring is therefore important when drawing up your communication and PR strategy.” – EDWIN BAS, GFK

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