The Australian public’s faith in both business and government has been shaken by a succession of high-profile scandals over the past few years. As a result reputation management is assuming a greater importance in the C-suite and the boardroom, and firms such as Sydney-based boutique Reputation are seeing heightened demand for their expertise in this vital arena.
Founded in 2002 by managing director Terri-Helen Gaynor—a 25-year veteran of the communications business who worked in the Commonwealth government sector and spend 12 years as a consultant across Asia before starting her own firm—Reputation focuses on helping firms manage their stakeholder relations. Its rigorous approach to that challenge includes information gathering and analysis (using a proprietary stakeholder analysis process it calls the “Reputation Ladder”) and influencer mapping that pre-cedes strategy development, execution and evaluation. The firm is also differentiated from its competitors by an emphasis on six values: experience, strategy, responsibility, resourcefulness, collaboration and commitment.
Says Sarah Campbell, manager of corporate communications, Philips Australia and New Zealand: “Reputation’s stakeholder engagement program was well researched and activated. They provided a great deal of insight into the important movers and shakers in the environment media, government and not-for-profit sectors allowing us to target the right people with the right messages.”
One way in which the firm’s values manifest themselves in day-to-day operations is that Gaynor is involved in all projects, spearheading a team of 10 consultants and a pool of outside contractors that give it the flexibility to respond to changing demands. A significant addition to the team last year was Rosemary Sayer, a veteran of the international public relations business, a former journalist who spent a decade in Hong Kong and is the author of two books about business leaders in the region.
The year started with Gaynor buying out her former business partner just as the world plunged into economic crisis, but Reputation came through it intact, with revenues holding steady and the firm’s own reputation enhanced. Its campaigns were recognized by several competitions, including this publication’s inaugural Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards, which presented certificates of excellence for Reputation’s work introducing advanced screening technologies at Australian airports and for its launch of GoSwitch.com.au, a price comparison site for energy customers. It was also honored by the PR Institute of Australia for the screening campaign and for its merger and acquisition communications on behalf of Mortgage Choice.
The firm works across the government, health, financial services and corporate sectors. Highlights include work with Becton Dickinson, developing an issues management program to prepare its top executives in Australia and New Zealand for handling issues and crises, and an assignment for the Department of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations, helping to secure broader public support for two controversial programs and get them back on track.
Reputation is the Australian affiliate of international public relations firm, MS&L, which operates a network of 54 offices worldwide.—PH