What price reputation introduction

An investigation into corporate reputation management in the FTSE250

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Warren Buffett
Report, What Price Reputation Introduction


Corporate reputation can be a major contributor to shareholder value. Research shows it can represent around 25% of the FTSE250’s market cap1. But it doesn’t appear on a balance sheet and can be all too easy to neglect.

Recent events emphasise why reputation matters in the FTSE250. We conducted our research before COVID-19 took hold in Europe but the pandemic has amplified, not displaced, the reputational risks identified. Having a ‘Black Swan’ disruptor of such magnitude turn so many norms upside down emphasises the significance of managing what is manageable. When markets are in unprecedented waters, when employees, customers, investors and other stakeholders are looking for reassurance, the spotlight is on companies and their leadership as never before. This demands effective, specialist reputational oversight – and understanding in the C-suite of its value.

This research was undertaken to explore the extent of corporate reputation management in the FTSE250: how, why and when firms take on specific communications capability and what changes as they move through the indices. It examines the risks FTSE250 firms identify to their reputations and how they resource and measure their capacity to manage those risks. We uncover the extent to which FTSE250 CEOs understand corporate reputation management, what corporate communications leaders’ roles really involve, and how they differ from similar positions in the FTSE100.

During 2019 and the early part of 2020, Cayhill Partners carried out extensive research across the FTSE250. This included face-to-face interviews with approximately 50 directors of corporate affairs, CEOs and selected PR agency heads, resulting in over 150 hours of in-depth discussion. This qualitative insight was supplemented by a comprehensive quantitative study across the entire FTSE250, as well as an analysis of Cayhill Partners’ proprietary database. This combined to provide a unique insight into how corporate reputation is perceived, resourced, managed and assessed in the FTSE250.

To ensure that contributors to the research felt able to give their unabridged and honest opinions, Cayhill Partners committed to ensuring that all comments contained in this report would be non-attributable.

In contrast to other corporate functions, there is no universal job title for corporate communications leaders, many of whom go under an array of different titles. Throughout this report we have used the term corporate affairs director, corporate communications director and communications leader interchangeably to denote the most senior group communications practitioner in any given organisation.

The research focuses on the FTSE250 (the 101st to 350th largest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange) and within those, the group corporate affairs & communications functions that are responsible for plc communications. The research excluded companies that are funds or investment trusts, those with fewer than 10 staff, or those whose main corporate HQ is outside the UK. Some participating companies have since exited their public listing or are no longer members of the FTSE250. We would like to thank all the communications leaders, CEOs and PR agency heads that gave of their time and insight so generously.

All Cayhill Partners’ research is carried out personally by its principals. This ensures that clients have direct access to the people who actually undertook the research, giving them a primary source of intelligence and insight.

Cayhill Partners is a specialist executive search, capability benchmarking and research consultancy focusing on the corporate reputation management disciplines. The firm helps organisations find, recruit, develop, benchmark, build and retain their senior corporate affairs, internal communications & PR teams. Run by a former FTSE100 corporate affairs director, the organisation offers a deep, first-hand understanding of the senior communications world.

1Reputation Dividend 2020 report, www.reputationdividend.com