Two-minute summary

Brands in the spotlight

From horse meat to tax evasion to energy price rises, consumer trust in corporate institutions has been rocked by scandal after scandal.

So much so that only a third of people expect business leaders to tell the truth according to ComRes research.

Against this backdrop, people are increasingly expressing themselves when they want to call institutions to task.

These were some of the conclusions at our recent event, when we heard from:

  • Guy Corbet, managing director, corporate & brand, Brands2Life (chair)
  • Katharine Peacock, managing director, ComRes
  • Nicola Green, director of communications and reputation, O2 UK
  • Nick Jones, VP corporate communications – digital, Visa Europe
  • Harry Wallop, features writer, Daily Telegraph

Other conclusions were that the power of one is rising – and there are individuals who are more influential than any national newspaper.

These individuals that amplify sentiment can fan the flames of dissent faster through social channels. The mob mentality reigns on social media and demands an urgent, and authentic, response.

So what does this mean for brands?

On the one hand brands face the unenviable task of balancing commercial confidentiality and corporate governance with the need for consumer accountability.

On the other, the need to react quickly to consumer opinion has shifted the communications director job from media to community management, and beyond. Comms teams are now managing multiple communities, from internal stakeholders to influencers on social media.

This gives them the strategic insight across a breadth of internal and external audiences to keep the business on the straight and narrow. They can make sure it stays true to its values and acts as it says. They can make sure it is authentic in its transparency and response.

Increasingly, the comms team is becoming the conscience of the company.

Brands in the spotlight (pdf presentation)