Top Companies South Africa 2021

Topcompanies

Media Torque and Events in collaboration with Plus 94 Research announced the 2021 results of the Top Companies South Africa: Reputation Index. The TCSA awards offer a gateway to an understanding and the management of reputations.


TSCA 2021

Managing reputation in uncertain times

DR SIFISO FALALA

As we ponder what the

pandemic means for

the future it becomes

obvious that it will

require a change of

attitude towards what we consider

important. While the importance of

the environment needs to catch up

with the rate of unfriendly corporate

and public practices, the pandemic

has thrown into the mix several other

questions. It has demonstrated the

supremacy of human life, health and

wellbeing. We are witnessing a future

world in which businesses are there

to interpret their role as co-architects

Media Torque & Events is grateful for

the unique opportunity to partner with

Plus 94 Research in an endeavour

to award the outstanding business

acumen of companies, its executives

and its staff for adapting to the

New Normal and in the process

successfully repositioned them in a

changed world during the COVID-19

global pandemic.

Grappling with issues which had

never before featured on the success

agenda of companies, those we

honour with the Top Companies

South Africa – Reputation Index

Award, had understood and

applied new criteria to birth a new

corporate tomorrow and successfully

weathered a constantly changing

marketplace.

While some had lost their footing,

the re-branding methods of these top

companies would continue to pave

the way for others in a quest to be

relevant. The men and women at the

top of the hierarchies of our winning

companies realised that their vision

and ability to adapt to changes out

of their control called for a new

mind-set and a can-do attitude. At

the same time, acknowledging the

importance of a loyal, willing and

capable workforce had seen these

companies evolve into successful

corporate benchmarks.

Consumers had become more

critical of the brands they support

and a holistic, sustainable

alternative for the profit-before-allof

a successful society. To that extent

the role of reputation and reputation

measurement is emphasized.

Leadership is critical for success

and sustainability in any undertaking

in both formal and informal settings.

It gives society its vision and

direction. Successful societies and

businesses have successful leaders.

This is the reason that reputation

measurements are often directed

at leaders, for it is they that can

engineer change in society.

Business leaders need to make

decisions and cannot run away

from that responsibility. It should be

amply demonstrated that not making

a decision at all, is in fact a default

decision (to not act). We are proud

to be associated with Media Torque,

especially as the subject matter at

hand is corporate reputation. Our

society does not lack the drive to

succeed. At times we find it hard

to agree what constitutes success,

and hence the importance of a

benchmark, such as this, for the

measurement and dissemination of

the drivers of reputation.

Celebrating

leaders who are

setting a new

agenda in a new era

NTHABISENG MOKAKE

else bottom line was needed. These

winning companies had addressed

concerns regarding health, wellness,

community needs and personal

fulfilment of their respective

workforces. After all, the impact of

the pandemic forced us all to take a

new, hard look at the world we had

created.

The pandemic had forever changed

the playing field, the way in which

businesses operate, how messages

are packaged and how products

and services are promoted. A Plus

94 study and a similar Harvard

published paper explored new

insights by applying quantitative

research methodologies to enable

respondents to recognise their

favourite brand. An extensive list of

reputational assessment pillars was

applied to these company and their

reputation drivers.

Dr Sifiso Falala, Chief Executive

Officer of Plus 94 Research, had put it

aptly in his statement that the factors

which influence reputational risk

had evolved, with the impact of the

pandemic shaking up perspectives

on what really matters.

This award ceremony is a tribute to

those brands which outperformed the

rest of the pack during these testing

times and we believe would continue

to lead the way into the future.

TOP COMPANIES SOUTH AFRICA . REPUTATION INDEX 02


TSCA 2021

Post-pandemic business calls

for new approach

ALEX ROSE-INNES

According to Dr Falala, Chief Executive

Officer of Plus 94 Research, the factors

influencing reputational risk had evolved,

with the impact of Covid-19, forever

changing perspectives on what really matters.

He said that altered consumer behaviour and

consumption models were likely to be far

longer-term than initially thought.

The major question for now is how branding

reputation can respond to these changes to

become more agile and impactful and drive

real differentiation?

COVID-19 had influenced the

business environment and market

place, engendering new consumer

trends calling for a rethink of whatever

had been considered as “normal”

before. There is no going back and it

is not a question of rebranding only,

but one of re-doing, clearing the way

for a holistic business approach.

The question foremost on the

minds of senior executives is how the

changed business landscape can be

sustainably rebuilt post-COVID-19.

Plus 94 Research, which had

partnered with Media Torque &

Events to award South Africa’s

(SA’s) Top Companies for 2021,

publishes an annual reputation index

study, taking into account key drivers

of brand recognition and reputation.

Applying data from 2001, trends

are studied in- depth to provide an

overview of the top 188 (according

to 2021 rating) companies in the

country.

As customers become increasingly

critical of brands they support,

strategic changes, underscored by

proper due diligence, are called for.

The new normal or if you wish, reality,

necessitates addressing consumer

concerns first of all. These include

health, wellness, community and

personal fulfilment. The competitive

landscape had completely changed

and only those brands which are

sustainable in the long run would

successfully weather the changes.

The Plus 94 Research Reputation

Index had applied quantitative

research methodologies to explore

the significant post-pandemic

changes. The research was

conducted with Tablet-Assisted

Personal Interviewing (TAPI) and

provides insight into open-ended

questions and analysis of 188 top

companies, according to 2021

industry information.

Dealing with evolved market

conditions, as a result of the negative

economic impact on all industry

sectors, should be top of the strategic

planning agenda. Sustainability

had become the name of the new

game and identifying and supplying

new products and services to meet

consumer expectations should focus

on creativity. Marketing campaigns

and the use of all types of media

should be re-evaluated and properly

analysed to provide operational

options.

Insights provided by Top Companies

SA (TCSA) would enable businesses

to successfully benchmark their

reputation against those of their

competitors.

The focus for brands

needs to be less about

how they can stand out

and more fundamentally

about how they can be

of use to consumers,

especially during these

testing times and beyond

- Nthabiseng Mokake,

MD Media Torque &

Events

An extremely successful webinar

was held at the end of August to

provide insights on the methodology

implemented in the survey. The

winners of the 2021 Top Companies

South Africa (TCSA) will be

announced at an online awards

ceremony on October 27.

TOP COMPANIES SOUTH AFRICA . REPUTATION INDEX 03


TSCA 2021

Winning leadership calls

for adaptabilty

ALEX ROSE-INNES

There is no denying the

pandemic had forever

changed, not only the

human life experience

around the globe, but

nowhere had the need for novel

approaches been greater than in

the business arena. Leadership

had undergone massive changes

and the bottom line is not focussed

just on profit anymore, but winning

leadership calls for adaptability and

agility in a complex and uncertain

new world.

The IBM Institute for Business Value

had published an in-depth report

on key opportunities to effectively

respond to change and addressed

leadership myths. The playing field

had become a grey area wherein

accepted core competencies of a

mere two years ago, had changed.

Those who adapted and showed

resilience during COVID-19 and

managed to embrace the Fourth

Industrial Revolution (4IR) at the

same time, would pave the way for a

new type of leader in the future.

Today’s top echelon of executives

had moved towards emphasising

workforce safety and security,

cost management and enterprise

agility. According to IBM research,

the business world should plan for

another prioritising shift within the

next 24 months.

Change remains

the name of the

game as leaders

plan for an

uncertain future –

IBM Institute for

Business Value

Transformation had become the

name of the game as part of a

continuously digital landscape.

Post-COVID, the world of passé

entrenched ideas and barriers are

making way for amplified flexibility

to counteract disruption, rapidly

evolving customer expectations

and an unprecedented pace

of digital change. Motivation is

not aspirational, it had become

existential and old-school beliefs

had been swept under the carpet.

The future has arrived and is

being governed by accelerated

digital transformation as workers

were moved to remote platforms

and supply chains had been

redressed to produce ondemand.

Mandatory to business

competency is the ability to adapt

to a new normal.

Whereas senior executives in the

past encountered resistance to

change from boards of directors,

66% were now quoted in the IBM

research paper as being enabled

to complete initiatives based

ON novel methodology. Experts

opined that this culture shift was

in part defensive with reducing

costs as the top benefit attributed

to transformation initiatives.

Technical platforms and those

who use them had delivered

results. Previous barriers to

implementation were brushed

aside and globally, companies

and organisations acknowledge

a 64% shift to increased cloudbased

activities which resulted

in permanent changes to

organisational strategies.

The figures speak for themselves

as 55% - 64% of organisations had

embraced Post-COVID strategies

which include large investment

into Artificial Intelligence (AI), the

Internet of Things (IoT), block

chain and cloud. Technophiles

had become the backbone of an

organisation. Chatbots are used

to immediately connect with and

react to customer queries.

Workforce training and

customer experience, which

had only played a 35% part in

organisational structures two

years ago, had risen to 84%

as most executives expect

changed customer behaviour

to continue after the pandemic.

Organisations are now more

focused than ever on retaining

staff with the right skills by also

focusing on their well-being.

They are not just paid to do a job

anymore, but had become the

heart of an organisation and are

being treated as such. However,

it is a fine line as machines take

over many jobs and those in

leadership positions would be

wise to ensure that the future of

staff members, who steered the

company through the pandemic,

is part of its overall strategy for

success.

As executive priorities became

rather fluid and the trauma of

pandemic stress literally hijacked

existing corporate strategies,

leaders are focusing inward and

not merely at external growth.

At the top of the spectrum is

cost management, enterprise

agility, cyber security, IT and new

product development to improve

customer experience.

According to the IBM survey,

executives across the globe are

increasingly focusing on crisis

management, safety and security,

with IT and supply-chain reliability

as major goals. One has not to

look any further than the recent

Transnet debacle that brought

the state-owned enterprise to its

knees when its data was hacked.

With a new appreciation of the

risks posed by crises such as

a pandemic, the commitment

to business agility, AI, data and

analytics and other emerging

technologies had grown

substantially and 94% of top

executives plan to participate in

platform-based business models.

It is true that COVID-19 had not

impacted all organisations and

industries equally. Economists

had labelled it as a “K-shaped”

consumer environment, where

some thrive and others languish.

The Amazons and Apples of

the world may be examples of

successful solo players, but most

businesses need partnerships

and ecosystems. And scale alone

does not predict above-industry

performance. The successful

interrelationships between

size and flexibility are defining

characteristics of successful

businesses. Executives expected

health-related sectors to be the

most likely post-crisis winners

with the losers’ list including

travel and transportation

and manufacturing-intensive

industries such as the automotive

industry. Health had become the

key to sustainability, together with

authenticity and environmental

positivity. Realising that people

and the planet are intrinsically

linked, corporations are now

required to reduce carbon

footprints and address waste

management.

Businesses are partnering up

and a renewed focus on essential

workers, competitiveness,

new business ventures and

expansions had been noted. The

question is where do we go from

here?

All the new challenges indicate

that there is no going back

to what had been before and

organisational complexity

remained the biggest hurdle

to progress, even leading to

employee burnout.

The new normal presents a

unique opportunity to build better

businesses and a better world.

Winning leaders realise that

enabling a diverse workforce

to perform optimally, as well as

building trust and confidence

among employees, would be

critical to success. The human

value would as never before have

the biggest impact on perceptions

and value in the future.

Time is of the essence and action

should be taken now and only

those who lead with inspirational

values would survive the postpandemic

business environment.

This new normal leaves no time

for complacency or the-good-olddays

nostalgia. There is no going

back. . Benjamin Franklin said

“…..everything seems to promise

it will be durable; but in this world,

nothing is certain except death

and taxes.” Those leaders who

prepare for ongoing uncertainty,

inevitable disruption and neverending

change, would be

the ones who lead the wbusiness

industry into unchartered waters

to benefit all.

TOP COMPANIES SOUTH AFRICA . REPUTATION INDEX 04


TOP COMPANIES SOUTH AFRICA . REPUTATION INDEX 05


The role of business

In creating an inclusive society

THABO MOHLALA

Social inclusivity is no longer an

option but it is a fundamental

business imperative particularly in

the rapidly evolving and innovating

world. Experts believe that

companies that have embedded

and prioritised social inclusion

as part of their business culture

are likely to perform better and to

realise their returns on investments.

This is because they draw a lot on

their employees’ diverse cultures,

viewpoints and gender which in

turn help the business to enrich and

optimise their operations.

Maximising business success

Shirley Engelmeier, the chief

executive and founder of

InclusionINC, believes inclusion

is like a call to action within the

workforce and aims to actively

involve and tap into every

employee’s ideas “knowledge,

perspectives, approaches, and

styles to maximise business

success”. She reckons businesses

that have adopted social inclusivity

are always ahead of their rivals

as they are able to pool together

diverse ideas for innovation and

performance.

Alan Jope, chief executive of

Unilever, is also a strong advocate

for social inclusion. Since he took

the helm in 2019 Jope identified

social inclusivity as an integral

part of Unilever’s operations in

all 190 countries. He uses it as

a lever through which Unilever

can contribute towards achieving

a more equitable and inclusive

society. Jope ensured that social

inclusion is expanded to encompass

other social components such as

women, youth, under-represented

and marginalised groups such as

people with disabilities, LGBTQI+

communities and other racial and

ethnic minorities.

Improving livelihood

Jope said the Covid-19 pandemic

has “undoubtedly widened the

social divide, and decisive and

collective action is needed to

build a society that helps to

improve livelihoods, embraces

diversity, nurtures talent and offers

opportunities for everyone.” Through

its ‘Sustainable Living Plan’ Unilever

aims to enhance the livelihood of

its employees and the communities

in which it operates by making sure

people earn a living wage to cover

their basic needs such as food,

housing and healthcare, said Jope.

Diversity and inclusion

In South Africa the creation of social

inclusion is even more crucial given

the history of racial and social

exclusion policies. South Africa and

Brazil have long occupied the top

spot as the world’s most socially

unequal countries where the gap

between the rich and poor keeps

widening. Four South African big

brands recently received accolades

for embracing and implementing

diversity and social inclusivity. They

were featured among the top 100

most diverse workplaces in the

world by the Thomson Reuters

Diversity & Inclusion Index, which

profiles global companies that

are leading the way in integrating

diversity and inclusion into their

company strategy.

The four companies are Woolworths

Holdings (ranked 24th overall),

Vodacom (42nd), Clicks Group

(58th) and Nedbank (95th). The

Thomas Reuters index scored

the companies mainly in terms

of diversity, inclusion, people

development. “Investors are keen

to see much more data related to

topics such as diversity to factor

these into their environment, social

and governance (ESG) strategies,

which have been gathering pace

over the last 12 months,” said

Thompson Reuters.

UN’s call for social inclusion

The promotion of an inclusive

society is also at the centre of the

UN’s agenda. Secretary-General

of the UN, António Guterres,

underscored the need for all key

sectors of society to implement

social integration policies as an

urgent priority. He said addressing

social inequalities is tied to the UN’s

Sustainable Development Goals.

Guterres called on all partners

including big global corporates to

“fight against inequality, linking

global principles and policy knowhow

to local action”.

In its recent report titled: ‘The World

Social Report 2020: ‘Inequality in a

Rapidly Changing World’, released

by the global body’s department

of economic and social affairs, it

highlighted “the harsh realities of a

deeply unequal global landscape”.

The report further noted that “In

North and South alike, mass

protests have flared up, fuelled

by a combination of economic

woes, growing inequalities and job

insecurity. Income disparities and a

lack of opportunities are creating a

vicious cycle of inequality, frustration

and discontent across generations.”

Building partnerships

Various political pundits and

economists concur that the effects

of the Covid-19 pandemic will

undoubtedly endure for many years

to come. But they also feel it is

a disaster that should not be left

to waste. They say the pandemic

provides sobering lessons for

global leaders to rethink and reimagine

a new world order based

on inclusivity and other values that

promote global partnerships and

collaborations. The partnerships

are particularly more urgent as the

world is faced with two major threats

of climate change and glaring social

inequalities. These challenges

require alliances and collective

action to limit their impacts on

humanity.

Climate change report

Recent disasters in Australia,

Greece, Turkey and the US make

a compelling case for accelerated

multilateral interventions to address

the climate change. The first three

countries experienced almost

similar outbreaks of uncontrollable

and catastrophic wildfires forcing

thousands of residents to flee their

homes.

In the US Hurricane Ida triggered

unprecedented heavy flooding in the

cities of New York and New Jersey

causing mayhem and destruction.

Experts attribute these disasters to

the worsening climate change and

are predicting more similar tragedies

ahead. This was confirmed by the

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate

Change’s recent report warning of

dire consequences if leaders do not

put measures in place to avert the

climate emergency.

TOP COMPANIES SOUTH AFRICA . REPUTATION INDEX 06


Top Companies South Africa

REPUTATION RATINGS 2021 | REPORT

Introduction

The reputation index of Top

Companies South Africa (TCSA)

gives a thorough ranking of South

Africa’s most reputable companies.

Once a year, Plus 94 conducts

the TCSA, a premium reputation

research study. The organisations

believes that a company’s reputation

is its most precious asset, and that

it has a direct impact on its ability to

grow and thrive.

TCSA asserts that brand

management and business

reputation management are not

the same thing. The opinions of

stakeholders about a company’s

reputation are crucial. Much

attention is spent on the more shortterm

operational aspects of a brand,

and insufficient time on longer-term

reputation. The TCSA awards offer

a gateway to an understanding and

the management of reputations.

TCSA uses a variety of reputational

pillars to evaluate each organisation,

which sets it distinct. The TCSA, on

the other hand, goes beyond simply

selecting the greatest companies by

offering actionable insights into what

generates reputation.

The Importance of Reputation

In the age of social media and online

customer review sites, reputation

management has never been

more complex. Because of the

convenience of the internet age, more

customers have a voice, as proven

by daily comments on websites like

Hello Peter and Trip Advisor. Before

making a purchase, many customers

rely on peer recommendations,

therefore maintaining a company’s

image is critical.

The TCSA Reputation Index was

created with the goal of identifying the

factors that influence a company’s

reputation, and thus its long-term

viability and profitability. Companies

can manage their reputation, but

they can’t always control or predict

it. Customers, suppliers, and other

stakeholders have control over it.

In order to build efficient reputation

management strategies as well

as client retention and loyalty

approaches, businesses must

undertake periodic brand audits.

TCSA’s insights can assist

businesses in evaluating their

reputation in comparison to their

primary competitors.

Understanding a company’s

reputation assists it to stay

competitive in a difficult economic

environment. A positive business

reputation is critical in a rising

economy, with pressing demands

to create more jobs, address

COVID-19 epidemic problems, as

well as grow and restructure the

organisation.

Methodology and Sample

The survey was conducted by Plus 94

Research using quantitative research

methodology. Additional open-ended

questions were incorporated to

elicit non-quantifiable ideas. The

respondents were interviewed face

to face utilising Tablet Assisted

Personal Interviewing (TAPI).

Because this was a public survey, it

was vital that the businesses picked

for consideration could be identified

quickly. The survey’s 2021 edition

looked at 200 of the most wellknown

companies. A total of over

209 businesses were included in the

2019 survey.

Due to COVID-19 constraints, no

surveys will be done in 2020. The

survey utilised eight important

reputation pillars to determine its

score. The pillars were weighted

according to their potential impact

on reputation to give each company

a score out of 100. The infographic

below contains further information

on the reputation pillars and their

weightings.

The total number of people in the

final sample was over 2000. To

account for the weight of purchasing

power in urban regions, the survey

was conducted in all nine provinces’

urban areas.

The majority of those who responded

were from Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal,

and the Western Cape, which are

the most densely populated areas

in South Africa. Gauteng had 37%

of the respondents, KwaZulu Natal

had 15%, Western Cape has 15%,

Mpumalanga has 10%, Eastern

Cape had 7%, Free State had 6%,

North West has 5%, Limpopo has

3%, and Northern Cape has 2%.

The sample included people from

all major demographic groups,

including age, race, income, and

gender. Furthermore, 93 percent

of respondents fell into the Living

Standard Measures 5 to 10 category.

07


Top Companies South Africa, an initiative by:



TCSA 2021 Key Take-Outs

Scores for the Top 50 Companies ranged from a high of 82.24 to a low of 73.07.

Truworths was voted

the most trustworthy

company in South Africa.

Debonairs, Ackermens,

SABC, and Multichoice

were all listed after Truworths.

Truworths, Ackermans, and Mr

Price are three of the top ten retailers

in the fashion shopping category.

Dis-Chem and Pick n Pay

Healthcare, two pharmaceutical

retailers, stood out as having good

reputations.

The number of customers that

based their purchasing decisions on

the positive reputation of a company

remain study at 80% in 2021. This

result confirms the tendency for South

African’s to base their purchasing

choices on the good reputation. The

propensity of customers to avoid

purchasing from companies with

poor reputations is known as boycott

behaviour. The boycott behaviour

rates decreased from 55% in 2019

to 43% in 2021. The survey was not

in 2020 due to COVID-19 lockdown

restrictions. The graph below shows

a trendline for purchasing decisions

since 2011.

Eighty percent of respondents

purposefully purchased goods

or services from a company

with a positive reputation. This

demonstrates the importance of

reputation in purchasing decisions.

43 percent of respondents said they

have stopped purchasing goods or

services from a company because of

its bad image.

Forty-five percent of respondents

think that companies are not doing

enough to address issues that

impact the country. Consumers are

no longer misled by non-relevant

corporate social responsibility and

are beginning to care, thus it is

critical for businesses to be good

corporate citizens. The following

are some examples of areas where

business can make a significant

contribution to society, according to

the respondents: job creation and

employment opportunities; excellent

customer service adapted to the

specific of customers; Community

development and upliftment;

donations, sponsorships, and

charitable support; food / food

parcels; supporting education

and skills development

programmes; assisting

disadvantaged communities;

supporting the government with

social initiatives such as crime, the

environment, health (e.g., COVID,

HIV), and sports; and support

projects that empower young

people.

26% of respondents admitted to

using social media to comment

about businesses either positively

or negatively. The results indicated

that the number was lower than in

previous years. The most popular

platform used was Facebook, while

the most talked-about company was

Shoprite Checkers. The propensity

to use social media as an outlet

indicates that businesses are highly

susceptible to public scrutiny.

The Top 50 Companies were ranked, each with a

score out of 100, for the past seven years.

10


TSCA 2021

Brand reputation in an era of

FAKE NEWS

THABO MOHLALA

The advent of social

media has signalled

a major technological

milestone across the

globe. It became a reliable

communication and marketing tool

both for social interactions and

business purposes.

Some of the benefits include,

among others, the fact that it is costeffective,

easy to set up and operate,

capable to drive traffic to website, it

builds and promotes brand loyalty

and awareness; provides real-time

feedback, reaches huge audience

and the message is likely to go viral.

But the platform has also shown

that it can be weaponised and

abused for wicked reasons such

as disseminating distorted and

manipulated information to cause

harm and irreparable damage.

Although fake news is not necessarily

a new phenomenon, social media

amplifies its potency, reach and

speed. Many powerful businesses

and political figures including

established global brands saw their

reputations and brand values built

over decades instantly eroded due

to the fake news.

Forestalling the risk

The first casualty of fake news is

reputation, considered to be the

heartbeat and the DNA of any

company. Companies that have

built strong reputations project a

sense of reliability, credibility and

trustworthiness. And this explains why

companies invest huge resources

and enlist services of experts

and specialised firms to monitor

and trawl social media platforms.

Through the use of sophisticated

artificial intelligence technologies

the experts are able to identify and

forestall possible risks posed by

fake news. Communications experts

advise company executives to brace

themselves for a fake news attack

at all times. And that they should

always have a plan on how they

can mitigate damage on their brand,

shareholders and consumers.

Damages caused by fake news

Examples of the damage fake news

can inflict in a company’s reputation

abounds. But two recent incidents

illustrate this point succinctly: the

Bell Pottinger’s fake news campaign

in South Africa and two similar

developments in the US.

Between 2016 and 2017, Oakbay

Capital, the then holding company

of the group of companies owned

by the fugitive Gupta brothers,

hired the infamous Bell Pottinger to

burnish their discredited image due

to their questionable political links.

The whole campaign was based on

stirring racial tensions by specifically

targeting white business owners.

They were projected as an organised

group that is aimed at sabotaging the

economy and deprive black people

economic opportunities.

Popularising hoax information

The Bell Pottinger’s campaign also

relied heavily on the use of bots 24/7

where Gupta employees and their

sympathisers churned out tomes of

fake news. They also created sham

countless accounts using hashtags

like #WhiteMonopolyCapital and

#RespectGuptas on Twitter and

Facebook to inflame race relations.

The campaign floundered leading to

the resignation of Timothy Bell, one

of the company’s co-founders.

In the US Donald Trump relied

heavily on social media to galvanise

support for his 2016 presidential

campaign. Just before the elections

his supporters spread fake news

and called for a boycott of Pepsi

products alleging that its CEO made

certain remarks which it was found

he never made. But the damage to

Pepsi’s brand was swift as the global

sentiments saw the stock prices

nosedived significantly. Another

incident related to a 2013 mishap

when Associated Press sent out a

tweet claiming two explosions went

off in the White House and that the

then president, Barack Obama,

was injured. Within minutes, an

estimated $130 billion in stock value

was reportedly lost.

Tried and tested approach

Experts say reacting promptly and

with honesty during a crisis remains

a tried and tested approach to

troubleshoot any possible damage.

Daniel Threlfall, a reputation

management specialist and trusted

voice, suggests specific proactive

steps that company executives can

take to protect their businesses

against any fake news damage.

Here are the

FIVE STEPS

• Admit your mistakes when they

happen

Fake news relies on old mistakes

which are then twisted to drive a

particular narrative. But this can

be nipped in the bud by owning by

owning up to your mistakes.

• Create robust, rapid-response

plans for each negative content risk

This should be preceded by a

brainstorming sessions to identify

reasons why someone might

use fake news against your

organisation. For each reason,

develop a thorough response plan

with actionable steps.

• Develop a positive social media

presence

One way to do so is by developing

a healthy and customer-first social

media presence that relies on facts

and transparency. If your company

is known for a friendly, open social

presence, you’ll have the advantage

when a problem arises.

• Reinforce employee conduct

policies

The best protection is prevention.

Make sure your employees all

understand and follow company

policies related to behaviour inside

and outside of the workplace.

If your employees are tweeting

controversial political opinions to

a wide audience, that may cause

problems in the future.

• Conduct reputation management

on executives

Finally, make sure executives in

your company are specifically

defended against this type of

information attack. Since executives

are often the target of fake news,

they’ll especially need protection.

TOP COMPANIES SOUTH AFRICA . REPUTATION INDEX 11


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