Bureau Hofkes Reputation Management: the stakeholder perspective

Reputation management on the basis of the Hofkes Reputation Model, revolves around the ability of an organization to connect to the outside world. Merely broadcasting information to your stakeholders no longer does its job. A structural dialogue is essential in order to connect to the stakeholders as well a organizational growth. Thus, we see a transformation of broadcasting-focused to receiver-focused management.

By opening up the dialogue, the organization receives valuable feedback which can be used to enforce and improve its reputation. This enables the organization to position itself at the centre of its stakeholders and society. The illustration of the Reputation Model visualizes the difference between broadcasting information and engaging in a dialogue.

The questions we address:
• What is the difference between broadcasting information and a receiver-focused perspective?
• Why is ‘working on your image’ crucially different from ‘working on your reputation’?
• To what extent is your organization connected to the outside world?
• What do we mean by the ‘outside world’?
• What is the status of your organization’s reputation?
• What reputation would you want for your organization?
• To what extent do communication- and PR policy influence the reputation of an organization?

For more information about our approach, please visit the Hofkes Method page.


The Era of Transparency

You see, the people in charge of a company, hold a different perspective than the people who do their daily jobs. There is a bigger distance between the leader and the daily practices. He refers to it as ‘the ivory tower’ and he is right about that.”
Respondent of reputation research

In the years ahead, the difference between high performance organizations and low performance organization will become visible on the premise of transparency.”
Visitor of the second National Reputation Congres

From sender/broadcaster to receiver

At the moment the world is shifting towards the era of transparency. Receivers are no longer anonymous. A medium like Google enables us to learn everything about operating organizations, even those details they’d rather not share. Moreover, the information coming from organizations themselves (e.g. via website or campaign) becomes less relevant. Instead, customers use websites to compare services, forums and reviews for information about the best product. A company has little tools to influence these sources, however negative coverage of their organization does have reputation damaging consequences.

By working on an organization’s ability to internalize signals from its field of operation, in addition to a reputation research, one can prevent and proactively deal with possible reputation damage.


The difference between image and reputation

The golden principle of image-building, long adhered to by the corporate world, has lost its effect and credibility. People demand trustworthy and credible information from corporations. They want to know what shared added value an organization truly delivers. Nowadays, the choice to do business with a certain organization, is based on its reputation and not its image-building capacities and fancy campaigns.

This is the crux of the matter, when it comes to defining the difference between your image and your reputation. As an organization you can work hard at your image and support it with a thorough communication-strategy. However, this says little to nothing about the true qualities of your organization. Nor does it say anything about the shared added value delivered by your organization. Hence, a good communication-strategy is important, however has little influence on your reputation. A (good or bad) reputation is based upon the factual experiences your stakeholders have with your organization. Therefore, in order to have a strong/good reputation, your performance and actions are key. Practice what you preach!

Trustworthiness and Reliability

Trustworthiness and reliability have become new important reputation values. Among many consumers, there is a heightened sense of skepticism towards companies and organizations with respect to the promises they make and their actual behavior and actions. As a modern organization, one should be open towards their signals and connect to the stakeholders. As a result, a successful organization is highly aware of her reputation, both the positive and negative aspects. Reputation damage is avoidable by knowing your reputation and using the signals from your field of operation to be proactive. This will support the growth, both financially and in terms of your organization, on the long term. Bureau Hofkes can assist you in reaching this continuous state of dialogue and helps you reap the (financial) benefits.


The illustration above, displays a simplification of the choices an organization has, in terms of reputation.

The Ten Iron Laws for effective strategic reputation management

Bureau Hofkes composed the Ten Iron Laws for effective strategic reputation management which transcends the superficial level of image-building. By abiding to these laws, you embed reputation as a responsibility throughout all layers of the organization and consequently create value for all layers of the organization.

  1. Every organization has an internal and external reputation.
  2. An organization’s reputation represents at least half of the total business value (conveyed in goodwill).
  3. Every single employee within the organization has its own influence on reputation.
  4. An organization does not have nor owns a reputation. You earn your reputation by consciously and proactively working at it.
  5. Strategic reputation management entails cherishing your reputation as the most important business capital.
  6. Strategic reputation management requires structural focus from the boardroom.
  7. You can never fully control or guide your reputation. There is no escape from external factors that can influence your reputation. You can, however, anticipate to these factors by being receptive towards outside signals.
  8. Well executed reputation management means: keeping your promises, practice what you preach.
  9. There is no use in being forceful when it comes to reputation. A good reputation comes with time.
  10. A good reputation strongly enhances the resilience of your company.


Since its establishment Bureau Hofkes executed many reputation researches including guidance towards the improvement process via the Feedback Factory. With this required valuable knowledge database as the foundation, a new platform was created: NewGovernance. This platform promotes strategic reputation management in boardrooms. The starting point is that a new type of governing is needed, one that makes a better fit with what today’s society needs from corporate business.

I am able to control only that which I am aware of. That which I am unaware of controls me. Awareness empowers me.”
John Whitmore