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Corporate Reputation High on the Agenda for CEOs in China

Possessing a good corporate reputation is becoming more than just a consideration for companies in China. Consumers and stakeholders are demanding a higher level of corporate responsibility than ever before. What affects a company's reputation? How can a company use its corporate reputation to improve its public image and improve profits? An expert on public relations tries to answer these questions in the following report: 
Many Chinese business leaders now consider corporate reputation to be essential to the development of their companies. This was clearly reflected in a recent survey targeting Chinese business executives and released by global communications consultancy Hill & Knowlton.

Among the 122 Chinese business leaders polled, 89 percent thought that corporate reputation has tangible business value and should be the concern of senior management.

Hill & Knowlton CEO Paul Taaffe says meeting the demands of customers is of number one importance in deciding a company's reputation.

"I think in China the number one thing that influences the reputation of an enterprise is what customers think about the enterprise, whether they like the enterprise, whether they have complaints about the enterprise."

The survey also showed that more and more Chinese CEOs are becoming aware of the important role that corporate social initiatives can play in shaping a company's image. Paul Taaffe says that although corporate social responsibility is in the early stages of development in China and different Chinese business leaders have different definitions of social responsibility, companies are still achieving significant success in the promotion of public image..

"Some define it as donations to charities, others define it on how they behave on ethical organization and others define it as the importance of environmental protection. We see Chinese companies doing extremely well in investing substantially in local communities, which is an important driver for reputation."

But donating money doesn't necessarily improve the image of a company. Paul Taaffe suggests that Chinese business leaders should also donate time and care to society. Corporate social initiatives should be carefully thought through and systematically carried out, just like any other area of business..
(CRI June 17, 2004)

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