A Q&A with corporate intelligence company Polecat
Brand reputation matters. A lot. In this HBR article, the author writes that a good reputation can contribute to an organization’s perceived value, its ability to charge a premium, and ultimately increase customer loyalty and lifetime value. In fact, in a world where up to 80% of market value comes from intangible assets, such as brand equity, goodwill, and intellectual capital, your company’s reputation is more important than ever!
While reputation is now the domain of the executive and strategic leaders, it ultimately comes down to good marketing and communication. But, for an organization to manage its reputation effectively, it must first be able to monitor it.
Managing information overload in reputation monitoring
With the vast amount of information available, for organizations who are looking to monitor or improve their brand reputation, knowing where to start can be overwhelming.
Does the term ‘information overload’ sound familiar to you?
At InfoDesk, we’ve helped professionals in communications, marketing and other roles overcome this burden for over 20 years, by helping them surface the key insights they need from the noise, in a timely manner.
Having access to technology that can identify this information plays a vital role when it comes to being able to monitor your organization’s brand reputation. There are also a few more factors that will really help companies get ahead and actually improve their reputation. This includes having the ability to:
- Evaluate risks as they emerge and how they shift
- Understand what is truly impacting the reputation of the business
- Quantify the outcomes your activities and communications have on your organization’s reputation
- Identify emerging themes in your industry that present opportunities to improve reputation before competitors and peers
An organization looking to truly understand its standing in its respective industry needs to have these reputational insights provided alongside other market intelligence.
We sat down with Polecat, one of our partners who are experts in reputation monitoring to ask them just why reputation monitoring and management is crucial for organizations who are wanting to navigate the stakeholder and ESG landscape.
IDSK: First of all, could you give us a general overview of Polecat and how it came about?
Polecat: We’re an intelligence company working with our clients globally. For over 10 years, we have empowered organizations to deliver growth and lasting value to their shareholders.
We also partner with other leading innovators in technology like InfoDesk to harness responsible business intelligence to protect and grow share price, mitigate and transfer risk and build resilient supply chains.
Our ‘Responsible Business Intelligence’ platform is predominantly used by senior leadership teams around the world to act early upon emerging environmental, societal and governance (ESG) intelligence, anticipate any crises as well as build their reputation.
IDSK: Do you feel that the demand from companies to monitor their corporate reputation is the same now as it was when you first founded Polecat?
Polecat: Back in the ’90s, and the early days of reputation monitoring, it was mostly about what people said about you in the newspapers and trying to stay ahead of any crises. But as time has gone on, corporate reputation and brand reputation are increasingly impacted by the organization’s external environment.
For example, how are external stakeholders such as investors perceiving that you’re mitigating against geo-political risks in a market where you operate? Reputation intelligence today is increasingly providing boards with unbiased data examining the stakeholder landscape (investors, regulators, governments, NGOs) around external signals (social, political and economic), in order to inform decision making at a strategic level, not just reporting on the sentiment of where a company is mentioned across media titles.
IDSK: There’s clearly a lot of factors to consider when it comes to monitoring corporate reputation. Would you say in general there are core factors that organizations should focus on? Or is it more dependent on their industry?
Polecat: Each industry certainly has topics and themes that align with their business operations, but there are also some key drivers of reputation that apply to any global company.
Most companies have what we call ‘reputation drivers’. These can be things like governance, societal impact, climate innovation, etc. However, the specifics of what they are monitoring within these drivers may be different. For example, Oil & Gas companies may focus on energy transition whereas Food & Beverage companies might focus on nutrition and packaging.
But looking at it from a more general perspective, you have financial performance and even topics such as ESG can be applied to any company now. Again, if you look back 10 years, it would only really be the extractives industry that would be interested in emissions and air pollution. But now, nearly every industry has to be regulated by their climate targets etc.
For non-industry-specific drivers, financial performance and ESG drivers can be applied to any listed company as more companies strive to maintain profits whilst investing and committing to purpose-driven performance.
IDSK: Polecat’s technology, much like InfoDesk’s, does a great job of analyzing enormous amounts of data from various information sources. Which information sources do you find are most commonly used by clients to monitor their reputations?
Polecat: Most platforms will focus on media monitoring or social media listening, whereas Polecat does both. We also have invested in bringing in stakeholder data at source to broaden the access to international authoritative sources. Even up until quite recently, we’d see clients who were using multiple platforms, all listening to different sources, but now are able to bring them into just one or two, meaning less time is spent on reporting and insights are easier to digest. We also partner with InfoDesk, using their data services to bring in information from premium content for larger enterprises, such as Factiva.
IDSK: What would you do if a new client approached you who had never monitored their reputation before?
Polecat: Some clients approach us with their own reputation drivers. We also have our own set of standard taxonomies along with some industry-specific drivers. So, if it was an energy company, we’d be able to monitor them using our standard reputation drivers (performance, social impact, governance, innovation, license to trade) and because we already have clients in that sector, we’d be able to recommend other topics of interest, such as energy transition and ensure we’re setting up comprehensive monitoring across thousands of corporate themes- something that we can do easily with our 10+ years of expertise.
There are also clients who have undertaken thorough market research and identified what is important, but they have no idea what to do next. In fact, one of the most common things we hear when we are onboarding new clients now is ‘Tell us what we don’t know’.
We pride ourselves on pairing our technology and expertise to help our customers understand their environment and also the data needs to align to their strategic plans. Ultimately, our clients are looking for our platform to increase speed to insights but also are looking for a human eye to query impact or the sentiment of the stakeholder landscape – something we know InfoDesk are also leaders in doing, which is why our partnership is an extremely strong proposition for our customers looking for that complete 360 view.
IDSK: We agree, being able to combine the power of AI with human expertise is what we do in order to help our clients achieve that full 360 view of their landscape, and we are passionate about partnering with other leading organizations such as Polecat to further facilitate this.
Since Polecat was founded over a decade ago, what are the biggest changes you’ve noticed recently? Particularly where digital transformation has been such a huge buzzword.
Polecat: What we’re seeing is that in addition to having on-demand access to a real-time platform to manage reputation and ESG profiles, our clients are increasingly looking at ways in which they can export data out of our platform and into their own via API.
IDSK: We are also seeing this trend as well, especially with those who have proprietary databases. They’re wanting to take things behind their own firewalls and have API access – effectively to take control of how information is utilized within their organization.
Polecat: One example of where we do this is actually with InfoDesk, so Polecat feeds data into InfoDesk, which delivers solutions to customers and vice versa.
Also, I don’t think we can talk about future trends without mentioning the move towards non-financial ESG intelligence, which has seen significant growth across our client base over the last 18 months. With more of the world’s assets being both sustainably managed and measured and also businesses needing more transparency in terms of their supply chain, access to broader data continues.
IDSK: Besides the changes you’ve seen in ESG and tech, what predictions do you have for 2022 and beyond in regards to shifts in reputation monitoring?
Polecat: We’ve mentioned briefly the requirement for increased non-financial data but we also see a continuation into 2022 for a broader monitoring requirement on how stakeholders are interacting with key strategic drivers such as climate, biodiversity, human rights, social impact and corporate governance. The use of monitoring for public policy, sustainability, and government relations teams also continues to grow.
Trend-wise, we think the ability for businesses to appear resilient will remain an important factor in corporate reputation as the economy continues to deal with the effects of the pandemic will be important going into 2022 and beyond.
Having a broader view of reputation intelligence is key to navigating your company towards opportunities and safely through issues in 2022 and beyond. InfoDesk and Polecat have been collaborating for several years, to ensure organizations have a 360 view of their reputation landscape.
To find out more about how InfoDesk can help you manage information overload and how it can be used alongside Polecat’s reputation monitor for confident strategic decisions regarding your brand reputation, get in touch with us here.
Polecat is a technology company that has developed proprietary algorithms to evaluate ESG, sustainability, risk, corporate reputation, and key issues and performance across the public domain, in any language. Polecat partners with InfoDesk to provide clients with access to industry, competitor and stakeholder public domain intelligence: from custom Twitter feeds integrating multiple keywords and handles enabling you to follow and track current news and events; to real-time dynamic tools to manage, influence and optimize corporate ESG and reputation strategy.