Reputational Report from Porter Novelli Reveals New ‘Era of Accountability’


Porter Novelli, the strategic communications company, has published its fifth annual research study of corporate reputation: The Purpose Priorities Report: How to respond in the new Era of Accountability. The study includes a new Better Business Matrix, designed to help companies navigate current cultural trends and meet the evolving demands of their audiences.

Some of the study’s findings include:

  • Consumers are looking to companies for leadership. Companies should demonstrate how they are following through on their promises to people, the planet or society, reported 84% of study respondents.
  • The report also highlights how consumers are demanding genuine change, not just marketing campaigns. Companies should have a point of view on environmental sustainability, noted 78% of respondents, while 65% of respondents also said that companies should encourage consumers to support social or environmental issues.
  • More than a third (36%) of consumers will start or increasepurchasing from companies that share a point of view on environmental sustainability that is aligned with their own. However, half (51%) of consumers report they will stop or reduce purchasing from companies that go back on promises they make to address social or environmental issues.
  • One-third (32%) of consumers will start or increase purchasing from companies that change the way they operate to address diversity and inclusion. Nearly the same amount (29%) of consumers will recommend companies that change the way they operate to address diversity and inclusion to friends, family and acquaintances.
  • Nearly half (48%) of Americans want companies to encourage consumers to take political actions like voting or writing to congress, but fewer than two-in-five (39%) consumers believe companies should comment on political topics in the news. In fact, 44% of consumers indicated they will actually stop or reduce purchasing from companies that publicly comment on a political topic with a view that is the opposite of their own.

“Good intentions aren’t enough. Consumers are tired of talk: they don’t want to see campaigns, they want to see action,” says David Bentley, global CEO of Porter Novelli. “Companies are realizing the benefits of doing business better as all audiences demand integrity and business growth will depend on navigating the complex landscape of audience expectations.”

The report’s Better Business Matrix ranks reputational leaders by industry, in eight key sectors, mapped to highlight the beneficial impact of Purpose on brand value. It also enables companies to self-diagnose their own reputation, based on the key criterion described in the report. Companies that performed the best within their industries include:

  • Automotive – Toyota
  • Communications – T-Mobile
  • Financial Services – TIAA
  • Food & Beverage – PepsiCo
  • Tech – Intel
  • Retail – REI

The Porter Novelli Purpose Priorities Report can be downloaded here.