State of the nation

Reputation management is as vital for political actors as it is for corporate players

The global financial crisis has created a number of challenges for international markets. It has also raised global political instability. Ever stricter measures to control budget and public expenditure provoked a global trend of increasing dissatisfaction, distrust and discontent with national governments. It is evident that economic recessions, corporate insolvencies, and the pervasiveness of new technologies are changing the relationship between consumers and businesses and are having a huge impact on consumers’ trust in markets.
As I indicated in a previous work conducted together with Dean Kruckeberg from the University of North Carolina USA, the complexity of today’s society and growing incredulity towards modern sciences has increased citizens’ insecurity towards traditional institutions such as friendship, nation-states, mass media, religion and so on. Generalised fears - a consequence of this lack of trust - are wide-spread. We noticed that in marketing communications, for example, more and more consumers lack commitment to universal or totalising ideas. They distrust planned and pre-packaged images and are more reluctant to take in corporate stories and, even less so, political messages. There is substantial distrust of political institutions, of corporations’ real intentions, and even of religion. These fears have been boosted by the financial crisis, particularly among those countries which have been affected the most by economic restrictions and austerity.

Chiara Valentini

Chiara Valentini is professor of corporate communication at Jyvaskyla University School of Business and Economics. She has also worked for and consulted organisations and public institutions of several countries, including the Italian Representation of the European Commission in Rome and the European Movement International Secretariat in Brussels.