Devika Mathrani on the New Rules of Reputation Management
July 20, 2023
Devika Mathrani is the Chief Marketing & Communications Officer for NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where she is responsible for the development and implementation of advertising, marketing, public relations, print, broadcast, media and social media strategies. Her role involves partnering across the organization to develop and advance NYP’s digital journeys and patient communications and elevate the message of top quality, safety and patient experience excellence in the local, regional and national healthcare marketplaces.

Reputation is Internal and External.

When you think about reputation, people immediately think about it as how the external environment thinks about your brand, about your products, your services, or your institution or enterprise, regardless what vertical you're in. But the other thing about reputation is it has a lot also to do with your internal stakeholders. And I do think in today's environment, particularly in a world where we talk all about the great resignation, your employees are an incredible part of your stakeholder population. They are your natural ambassadors. And when you think about reputation, you have to think about it both internally and externally.

It is driven by how people think about both your current actions as well as your past actions, which I do think is the painful part of reputation for many institutions. When you think about why it matters, and the real benefits of it, and you see that listed on the page, obviously, companies, organizations, products and services that have great reputation, they have customer loyalty. That is absolutely a competitive advantage for them. In today's day and age, even more so, it's actually helping to attract talent.

Stats on Reputation Management for Employee Retention

For employees, 83% say that reputation really matters to them, and whether they feel proud working for an organization. Many years ago, that number was more like 30% and 40%. And that's because some people said, listen, it's a job that pays me a paycheck. Whether they're a good company or a less good company, people didn't care quite as much. I know that sounds awful, but it's true.

And then also in today's day and age with social media, everybody has the opportunity to pick up the pen, in the digital sense, and have a point of view. People in social media, the reputation of an organization plays heavily into the types of sentiment engagement comments that your brand receives.

When you look at employee surveys for companies today, the ethics of a company and an employee feeling like they can relate to the ethics and the principles of an organization have become increasingly important. And when you think about purpose, nowadays, people want to do business with brands that have a bigger purpose. It's not just about the product and service that you provide. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to even have the best product and service, but if you're doing something good for the community around you. You think about B Corps. I work with an incredible marketing agency called Avast. Avast is one of the first global network agencies around the world to become a B Corp. When I made that decision to make them my agency of record, that was a part of my decision process. I wanted to work with an organization that was not just thinking about the assets that they're producing, but they're also thinking about how they're giving back to the communities that they serve, whether it's environmental, or in the forms of humanity.

It's More Than the 4Ps.

In today's day and age, purpose matters incredibly. Your purpose is very much tied to the reputation of your institution. Many of you have either been to business school, or have sat in some type of marketing class at some point and have talked about the core marketing principles. And people always talk about the four P's: product, price, place and promotion. I'm not saying that those things don't matter, they absolutely do, they've shifted to becoming the basics. They've become the foundation. You have to have a decent product, your pricing needs to be competitive, where you're placing your product needs to be where your consumer is, whoever your consumer is, and you need to be promoting. In many cases, most categories are highly competitive, and highly commoditized.

But what is being built on top of that is a whole new conversation that is really shaping sentiment and reputation. One is purpose, which I talked about before. There's a reason why when you think about a brand, like Warby Parker, for example, have done incredibly well, are they absolutely the best glasses you can get in the marketplace? Not necessarily. But it does make people feel really good that when you buy a pair of glasses, you're giving one to somebody else in need, and that will drive people's decision. The other thing is also positioning your products with curated connection, and this has a lot to do with using data. Consumers want to know that you're promoting products to me that are meant for me, and they expect you to use the data that's available.

Have a Point of View

The next area that's really beginning to influence decisions is around point of view. And what's interesting is that when you talk to consumers, in many cases, they want to have a shared point of view with a brand that they're doing business with. In some cases, they'll actually tell you it doesn't. I don't even necessarily always have to agree with an organization's point of view. In many cases, they say, I just respect the fact that an organization has a point of view, and that they come out with a position.

Let's talk about Nike for a moment. Nike is a brand who over the years has really built a reputation for having a point of view. And sometimes that point of view is incredibly controversial. Not everybody is going to agree with the side of an argument or the side of a debate that they choose to put their position. But people respect the brand for having a point of view and coming out and making a statement and not being quiet. This has been a very active topic of conversation over the last few days when you think about what's going on with the Supreme Court and abortion. People are looking, and they're seeing which institutions are making a statement, which institutions are staying quiet.

I work in healthcare, and it's been a very active topic of discussion about, do we make a statement, do we not? All of that drives consumer's opinion of you and whether they want to do business with you. And then that last piece is around process and experience. So often two products are exactly the same. But what people post about in social, what people talk about in their star ratings, what people mention at a dinner party, is what that experience was in interacting with a brand. The reputation is almost less about the product and service that the individual is interacting with. That almost has become this commoditized assumption that the product is going to work. But they're talking about the experience around it, whether it be the digital experience, whether it's a brick and mortar experience, whether it's the type of communication and the tone and style.

I think that the four P's are not the end game of really building your reputation and being in the consideration set for consumers when they're making a decision.

In today's day and age, people are saying, I don't necessarily want to do business, and I don't want to buy products and services, and I don't want to help the stock price of an institution where I'm reading in the paper that their employees don't like working for them, or that they're not a good corporate culture or that they don't embrace diversity and inclusion.

Those types of dialogues are impacting people's perception and the reputation of a product, and it is having a significant impact on people's ability to do business with them. You think about things like Glassdoor ratings. Consumers actually report, and particularly the younger generation that they research things that I never thought about when I was growing up. Even when I was getting employed by a company, of course, you did a little bit of research, but you didn't look at the level of detail around workplace culture and diversity and inclusion that the kids look at today. The other bucket that's newer is SRG, social responsibility.

We look at surveys of incoming, let's call it college graduates, into the workplace. They are looking at, what is that institution either doing for an environmental cause, a social cause, or community cause? And one of the questions, when I do interviewing on college campuses, has been, what's the cause? This is particularly when I was at Wells, and Citi, people would say, what's the cause that the bank has picked? Where are you guys placing your eggs? What's your cause of choice? Which again, many years ago, you would never get asked that question, and also, many years ago, companies hadn't picked the areas where they were placing their bets.



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