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How Engaging with Stakeholders Supports a Company’s Bottom Line

By Peter LaMotte
Senior Vice President, Chernoff Newman

Far too often companies forget that a strong reputation is more than just keeping your nose clean in the media. The truth is that building your reputation can support all kinds of bottom-line activities such as sales, employee morale, stock value, and other important business goals. Traditionally, investments in corporate social responsibility and philanthropy were thought to be the best way to build a positive reputation for your company. Take care of your employees and give back to the community, and you’re in the clear…right?

Nowadays that simply doesn’t cut it. The spotlight is shifting from investing in corporate social responsibility to developing shared values with your key stakeholders. So, what exactly is this “shared value” perspective? It’s the idea that there is now more to a company’s focus than just creating value for the shareholder. It is about creating value for all stakeholders including employees, the community at large, its vendors, the environment, and yes, shareholders.

Companies are starting to understand that a “shared value” perspective must be based on and involve all key stakeholders. This is a direct reflection of an organization realizing that listening and engaging with an audience is far more important than simply promoting its self-identified works. The “shared value” perspective directly benefits economic value by not only highlighting which sustainability initiatives align with its own business goals, but also by providing ongoing transparency with these key stakeholders.

Additionally, a company with this perspective is better positioned to anticipate and react to any changes in their industry, including hidden threats to reputation. In order to create a “shared value”, companies need to engage, listen and respond to their key stakeholders. If that dialog exists, organizations can start to see the impact on their business. It was recently found that companies that performed better on “shared value” KPIs had better financial performance and higher perceived value by shareholders. Specifically, organizations that put efforts into shared value initiatives, like GE, Ikea, Unilever, and Mars, saw benefits in employee turnover reduction, increases in pricing premiums and greater ease in permitting.

This switch in focus from corporate social responsibility to the broader “shared value” is a great reminder that audiences are ever-changing and, as a result, organizations need to be constantly listening. Building a positive reputation is crucial to a company’s survival in today’s corporate landscape: Adopting a “shared value” perspective is the best way to ensure that bottom line activities are being supported and surpassed, while continuing to stay in touch with the ever-changing demands and desires of your stakeholders.

Peter LaMotte is a seasoned communications executive with experience in complex reputational issues, marketing, and advertising strategies. He currently serves as Senior Vice President of Chernoff Newman, managing the company’s Charleston location.

Over the last two decades, Peter has built his expertise by working with high profile clients all over the world. Prior to joining Chernoff Newman, Peter spent ten years in Washington, D.C. in the field of reputation management and marketing. His clients included Fortune Global 500 corporations, international associations, foreign governments, individuals and non-profits. Prior to his position in the reputation management field, Peter ran an online advertising agency that created rich media content for global brands through a network of creative professionals from around the globe. He holds a BA in International Business from Rhodes College and an MBA from Vanderbilt’s Graduate School of Management. Born and raised in Beaufort County, S.C., Peter now lives in Charleston, S.C. with his wife and children.