One way to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of a programme over time is to regularly monitor and collect data on how it is perceived by interest groups, the media and the wider public. A ‘reputation monitoring dashboard’ is an option for collecting this kind of data on a regular basis, allowing users to monitor and quickly appraise reputational trends at a glance and from a variety of different sources.
The technique is most commonly used in the corporate world to monitor the reputation of brands, products, competitors and high profile public figures. The option has become increasingly common with the development of social and alternative media, which has made keeping track of a product or programme’s reputation more complex.
The kinds of information to feature in a reputation monitoring dashboard include:
Organisations with limited resources or technical know-how can easily build their own ‘dashboard’ in Word, Excel, PowerPoint or any other commonly available application. This approach requires manually updating the various parts of the dashboard at regular intervals using manual or automated searches of keywords from selected sources.
But ideally a dashboard will update searches on a fully automated basis. Bespoke software applications and online tools are available that allows organisations to customise the keywords and sources they are interested in monitoring (for example mentionmapp.com and peerindex.com). iGoogle is a free application available that allows users to build a reputation monitoring dashboard using Google Alerts, but that will amalgamate results from a variety of different sources. Go to www.google.com/ig to create an iGoogle dashboard.
Automated alerts can be converted into an RSS feed. Programme or organisation managers can monitor the feed to track reputational trends on a daily basis, in order to inform better and more responsive decision making.
By segmenting dashboard results by type of stakeholder, it is possible to track reputational trends among different groups and to manage stakeholders in a more nuanced way.
If regular records are made of the reputation dashboard, these can be used as a source of both qualitative and quantitative data for use in programme or organisational evaluation. In particular it can be used to measure how public opinion shifted over time.
PublicServiceMonitor (formerly CouncilMonitor) is an organisation in the UK that monitors news, blogs, forums and social media sites and summarises what is being said about local government bodies. The service was launched in December 2009. It measures a benchmark group of UK councils on a consistent basis to provide national trend information relating to what people are saying about different councils online. It publishes a freely available web-based dashboard to present comparative information and provides a fee-based service to individual councils.
Source: PublicServiceMonitor. Online.
Beal, A. and Strauss, J. (2008) Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online (NJ, John Wiley and Sons)