Corporate Communications Can’t Drive Good Reputation Without Good Corporate Behavior

TL;DR: Mission North is launching a new practice today around the belief that good corporate communications is meaningless without good corporate behavior. Companies that embrace a proactive and preemptive mindset related to reputation will fundamentally walk the right way, not just talk the right way. In doing so, they will fortify their relationships with different stakeholders at every stage of growth to build more resilient brands, and more valuable businesses.

2020 was a year of extraordinary disruption that will forever change expectations of corporate accountability in terms of how companies operate, their relationship with employees and how they respond to external events. Covid, the murder of George Floyd, the political unrest, social and economic hardships of the past year signal a clear need to to meaningfully improve the status quo. Instead of mourning our past normal with its many broken structural norms, this is an opportunity to consider what the next normal should look like.

It is understandable that CEOs and communications leaders struggle to know how or if to engage with their stakeholders about these difficult and sensitive issues. How do you adapt to the new reality where employees now wield more influence over your business decisions than any other constituency? How do you make meaningful corporate commitments that move the needle around diversity? How do you meet expectations of transparency and accountability when, not if, you experience a data breach? How do you navigate the labyrinth of influencers to shape positive opinion around critical issues such as data ethics, financial access and climate change? And even more importantly, how do you use your platforms for good, not just profit?

We are uniquely positioned in the marketplace by offering strategic advisory and communications services to help the most promising science and technology companies strengthen their relationships with stakeholders at earlier stages of growth.

We’re launching Mission North’s Corporate Reputation Practice today to help our clients navigate this new world through communications rooted in the organizational behaviors required for them to sustain and fortify their relationships with stakeholders over time. 

Our new practice builds on our 15+ years of experience partnering with leaders like Atlassian, Betterment, Ginkgo Bioworks, Expensify, Freshly, Google, Gusto, LinkedIn, Segment and Snowflake. We are uniquely positioned in the marketplace by offering strategic advisory and communications services to help the most promising science and technology companies strengthen their relationships with stakeholders at earlier stages of growth. 

A proactive and preemptive mindset around brand reputation and external engagement doesn’t only build lasting relationships with stakeholders, it is a smart business strategy that conditions more resilient organizational behavior. We’ve built our practice on this single belief: Authentic behavior, not well-intentioned pledges and platitudes, drives sustainable reputation and market value. 

A proactive and preemptive mindset around brand reputation and external engagement doesn’t only build lasting relationships with stakeholders, it is a smart business strategy that conditions more resilient organizational behavior.

In response to the 2020  Black Lives Matter call to action, some of the largest global companies promised $35 billion toward racial equity. More recently, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink’s 2021 letter to CEOs has fueled a slew of Net Zero campaigns among tech’s most influential players. While mature brands must continue to invest in pledges advancing important issues like diversity and climate change, smaller, growth stage companies have the opportunity to embed these values into their business strategy early and bring them to scale as they grow. By making reputation a core strategy, companies will not only differentiate their brands with customers, they will improve their capacity to hire and retain the best talent. The challenge (and the opportunity) will be convincing VCs and their LPs that their portfolios of not-yet-profitable companies stand to benefit from this type of investment.  

By embracing strategic reputation planning early on, companies ensure their license to grow and innovate thereby avoiding the reputational reckonings like those experienced by Uber and Zenefits. 

There’s no better person to lead Mission North’s Corporate Reputation Practice than our Senior Vice President Rachael Cassidy, who has been with us for more than five years. During this time Rachael spearheaded the evolution of our Future of Work and Media Practices, guiding communications and content strategy for high-growth brands like Atlassian, Expensify and Gusto. Rachael has also advised some of the software industry’s most successful IPOs. Before Mission North, Rachael led PR programs and media strategy for a range of Australian tech and consumer brands following a successful career in broadcast journalism.

By embracing strategic reputation planning early on, companies ensure their license to grow and innovate thereby avoiding the reputational reckonings like those experienced by Uber and Zenefits.

Rachael leads a team of other veteran corporate communications strategists, including Mission North’s Senior Vice President and Life Sciences Practice Lead Melissa Musiker.  She brings extensive experience in CSR, crisis and issues management to our clients as they navigate this big transition. Melissa recently joined us from the McDonald’s Corporation, where she led International Public Affairs and Issues Management. Before McDonald’s, she held senior leadership roles at APCO Worldwide where her work focused on leveraging influencer insights to build integrated global reputation campaigns.  

In the next normal companies will not be able to wait to  begin seriously investing in their corporate brand reputation after they go public or experience a major crisis. Companies at every stage must take a preemptive approach to corporate brand building that anticipates their biggest vulnerabilities, turning them into opportunities that proactively builds their reputation around the critical issues shaping their future. 

For more information on our full range of services, you can check out our press release here.