How to Rate a Company’s Reputation

If you could have a “Nielsen’s Rating” of reputation, what would it look like? Well, the Harris Poll, owned by Nielsen, has the answer in the form of the Harris Poll Reputation Quotient. This is a yearly poll that gauges the reputations of the largest, well-known companies in the U.S.

Here are the six dimensions they measure: products and services, financial performance, vision and leadership, workplace environment, social responsibility, and emotional appeal. The goal is to help corporate leaders manage their company’s reputation among the general public. But the Harris Poll also publishes the list of the top 100 companies, so you and I can see how they rank.

For example, the top five companies with the best reputations for 2016 are Amazon, Apple, Google, USAA, and The Walt Disney Company. At the bottom of the list was Volkswagen Group, due to the recent scandal involving emissions tests. Comcast came in at a sorry 97 because, well, it’s Comcast.

Now, it’s likely that you’re not a multi-billion dollar company with thousands of employees. So should you care about the Harris Poll Reputation Quotient? Sure, the things they measure can be important when you’re in the public eye. But Acme Car Repair in Any City, USA is not going to show up on Harris Poll’s list of reputation rankings.

It’s just a fact that, if you’re not a well-known company, brand, or celebrity, you’re not likely to have any kind of reputation among the general public. Your customers know you, your suppliers may know you, and a few journalists who cover your industry or area of expertise might also be aware of your existence. But outside of that circle, you just don’t register on anyone’s radar.

And that’s where your online reputation comes in. Because, if someone doesn’t know much about you, they’re going to Google you.

When we talk about online reputation management, we’re not talking about the kinds of things that the Harris Poll looks at. We care about what someone finds when they do search on you or your company. That’s the point where your prospects begin to gain a sense of what your reputation is, mostly by seeing what other people say about you online. And since this could be the first exposure they have to your company, it had better be a good impression.

Curiously, one of the things the Harris Poll evaluates is someone’s “willingness to say something positive, and intent to purchase or recommend your products and services.” But you can easily find that yourself. Just look at the first couple of pages of Google search results and see what people actually say about you. No need to poll them about their intentions. The good, the bad, and the ugly of their recommendations is all right there for you — and everyone else — to see.

So a simple way to rate your reputation is by looking at the number of positive search results on the first page of Google. You’ll get a number like 6 out of 10 positive, or 9 out of 10. The higher the better. You can give it a fancy name like Search Results Online Reputation Quotient, but it comes down to the same thing. Managing your online reputation is then a matter of getting more positive results to show up above the negative results. That can be a challenge, but that’s what we’re here to help you with.