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4 Important Components of Global Corporate Reputation

A Handshake between 2 Diplomats

The world is more connected economically, socially, and politically than ever before. Successfully penetrating foreign markets in an increasingly globalized marketplace requires building positive relationships with stakeholders abroad by adapting to their culture and subsequently drawing upon those relationships to create opportunities for the advancement of the corporation’s reputation. To negotiate these delicate outreach efforts, global corporations employ erudite diplomats who understand the following key aspects of global corporate relations, which can be used to facilitate a business’ successful expansion into foreign markets.

Building a Global Corporate Brand

One major component of improving a multinational corporation’s reputation involves employing skilled corporate diplomats who use branding techniques to construct an agreeable public image to deploy in foreign markets. Usually, this branding occurs naturally as an organization develops in the marketplace, but to accelerate this process, a corporate diplomat uses market research and analysis to ensure that the image their employer conveys to international markets will be willfully accepted by the intended audience. Subsequent to research, diplomats must advance their brand by consistently partaking in brand-building activities like trademarking content or products; holding events that allow interaction with consumers; and engaging with communities. In this way, a corporate diplomat can effectively develop a positive brand identity that can attract and maintain the interest of consumers in global markets. To enhance the implementation of these outreach efforts, corporate diplomats should advise their employers to introduce a core set of universal social and ethical standards that form the basis for all corporate branding operations and can be adapted to fit new diplomatic circumstances; this limits the risk of ostracism by consumers disgruntled by poorly improvised branding decisions.

So-called “easily fixed” mistakes, like unknowingly using offensive imagery or incorporating suggestive language into advertising, have the potential to ruin a corporation’s chances at making a positive impression in a new region. Therefore, it is incredibly important for corporate diplomats to perform due diligence and share their data amongst branding personnel before deploying an advertising strategy in a foreign market. John McDonnell, Chief Operating Officer of Patron Spirits International, suggests that global corporate diplomats help implement the following five rules for successfully building a global corporate brand:

1. Keep branding consistent to establish a uniform brand identity.
2. When entering new markets, pace branding activities based on schedules with proven efficiency in the region.
3. Interact with and learn from key influencers in the local marketplace, like manufacturers, distributors, and thought leaders.
4. Establish the critical legal aspects of the brand. This means defining the complete scope of the marketing campaign, determining how it will be packaged, then registering a trademarking through the correct legal channels.
5. Find unique ways to expand the brand into alternative sales channels and seize opportunities to gain a foothold in new sections of the marketplace.

Recognizing Stakeholders

Multinational corporations often impact the lives of thousands, if not millions, of people with their products and services. With this in mind, it is important for corporate diplomats to recognize what each stakeholder contributes to the corporation’s success. Internal stakeholders are individuals who are committed to serving an organization (employees, volunteers, etc.), and as members of the workforce, their opinions and productive contributions set the tone for a corporation’s reputation. When global corporations consistently provide productive environments for the internal stakeholders, they encourage favorable interactions with external stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers and government entities in multinational trade markets. This can be accomplished by communicating the thoughts of stakeholders to top decision makers and following up to ensure that any proposed policy changes will grow the organization’s reputation.

Through research and analysis, a global corporate diplomat must identify how their employers are directly and indirectly influenced by its stakeholders in order to effectively leverage the stakeholders’ efforts, opinions, and ideas to facilitate the positive growth of their employer’s reputation. By packaging this data into digestible reports, proposals, and presentations, corporate diplomats can provide company executives with valuable information that can be used creatively to enhance stakeholder engagement by hosting events where stakeholders can ask questions and submit feedback; helping their employer draft policies that clearly define what is expected from stakeholders; or highlighting appreciation of stakeholders by creating award schemes that reward stellar performance by internal stakeholders and significant contributions from external stakeholders. Successful implementation of such policies can lead to global corporations developing stronger relationships with their stakeholders, increasing the frequency of positive interactions and strengthening the organization’s reputation as a whole.

Influencing Media and Public Opinion

Working with media networks (including television, print and online outlets) offers corporations the ability to instantly broadcast the value of their company’s products and services. This makes the media an invaluable resource for corporate diplomats who can use contests, interviews, and other alternative forms of content to positively influence the opinions of consumers. To boost their global corporate reputation as much as possible, diplomats should incorporate what they know about their average customers to generate a mutually beneficial strategy that addresses specific regional needs. For example, if corporate diplomats use a television interview to discuss a regional problem and then offer concrete solutions, communities may acknowledge that the company understands their needs, increasing their appreciation for that company.

Choosing what type of content to air is only one aspect of the use of media to improve corporate reputation. Diplomats must recognize that it takes time to build relationships between a multinational corporation and the constituents of foreign markets. Corporate diplomats can maximize the effectiveness of this strategy by identifying the most well-received local and regional media outlets whose values align with the image that the corporation desires to project. Diplomats then interface with these outlets to highlight the positive features and gradually improve the international reputation of the corporation for which they work.

Collaborating with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Corporate Strategy

Global corporate diplomats can use their expertise in negotiating international relationships to coordinate partnerships between global corporations and foreign, charitable non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These partnerships are mutually beneficial, as they have the potential to improve the reputations of both organizations and allow them to enhance their operational strategy by granting mutual access to each other’s resources; this is especially advantageous when corporate diplomats arrange partnerships with foreign NGOs that support causes that are linked to the interests of the diplomat’s employers, as the corporation is likely to gain access to valuable knowledge about regional, social, or environmental circumstances. As a means of reciprocity, diplomatic professionals from multinational corporations can provide value to foreign NGOs by adapting branding and expansion strategies to address specific regional concerns.

Multinational corporations can enhance their reputation by building collaboration with NGOs by means of financial or non-financial support. Through financial partnerships, multinational corporations form an economic relationship with an NGO, offering the organization help through charitable financial contributions and similar investment. With non-financial support partnerships, the corporation delegates a portion of its resources to help the NGO grow and make progress toward its goal. Examples of non-financial support include offering mentorship to the staff members of an NGO or providing partner NGOs with staff or services that will improve the success of their operations. Thus, the participating NGO receives direct support for their operations while the corporation’s international reputation is bolstered by visibly, voluntarily taking action to support a noble cause.

Operating an international corporation requires forward thinking and acknowledgement of the cultural differences that exist in different regions of the world. Before taking any actions that will impact business operations, the leaders of multinational corporations must determine the most diplomatic approach to carrying out their strategies in order to guarantee positive international reputations for the corporations for which they work. To enhance their ability to successfully connect with foreign communities, current and prospective diplomatic professionals should pursue an advanced degree in diplomacy—such as the Master of Arts in Diplomacy degree offered by Norwich University—that provides insight into international trade and law, as well as current diplomatic practices.

Learn More

As the nation’s oldest private military college, Norwich University has been a leader in innovative education since 1819. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their places of work and their communities.

Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in Diplomacy program provides working professionals with a broad understanding of global communications protocol and a deep knowledge of the world issues that affect international relations. The program allows you to build on your political, governmental, or business expertise with a solid foundation in the theories and practices that direct international relations and political science within the international system.

Recommended Readings:
The Increasing Need for Cyber Diplomacy
6 American Diplomats of the 21st Century
A Career in the Foreign Service: What You Need to Know

Sources:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0363811116301527

http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/leadership/rebuilding-corporate-reputations

https://hbr.org/2016/09/why-your-company-needs-a-foreign-policy

https://hbr.org/2013/02/building-a-global-brand

https://www.theguardian.com/social-enterprise-network/2011/apr/26/social-enterprises-non-financial-support

October 2017