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Burson-Marsteller Purpose and Performance: Driving Corporate Success in Tough Economic Times


hen tough economic times hit, the temptation is for companies to only focus on maintaining profits and margins. The problem, however, is that by doing so, they emerge with no clear purpose and uncertain performance. If a company has a clear purpose, it can support and guide top managers as they make strategic decisions and lead their organizations through the tough times. A company’s purpose can guide a business as it seeks to sustain financial performance during difficult economic times. Finding the Balance However, a corporate reputation survey among 200 leading executives and opinion makers in 11 European markets (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K.) finds striking a balance between purpose and performance as one of the main corporate challenges today and in the future. Nearly three in five respondents see a tension in focusing on both.

It is in a company’s interest to ensure that both CEOs and shareholders are aware of the symbiotic relationship between purpose and performance – and that one is not pursued at the expense of the other. Sixty-two percent of the respondents believe that CEOs must find a way

André Wigger, Director, Corporate Communications, Burson-Marsteller GmbH E W

Communication is key in conveying the purpose and performance story

to strike the right balance. But along with shareholders, CEOs are viewed as the principal barriers to this development. A vast majority of respondents – 90 percent – believe that purpose is more important today than it was five years ago and that there is a much greater level of scrutiny of the purpose, vision and values of a company now than there

Source: iStock

was five years ago. There is also a high level of consensus – 81 percent – that no business survives without considering its impact on the wider world. Sixty-nine percent of respondents believe companies that effectively balance purpose and performance are seen as role models in business, that is, a guide for other companies to follow. Sixty-one percent believe such a company would be a valuable partner, and 58 percent would recommend such a company as a good employer. Forty-three percent strongly agree they would support a company if it were to come under public pressure. Defining the Narrative

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Communication clearly plays a crucial role in effectively conveying the purpose and performance story to different stakeholders. Knowing how this information is perceived by stakeholders is fundamental to communicating purpose and performance. Companies should analyze the level of understanding and appreciation of a purpose and performance statement among different stakeholders. They should not only compare the results with management’s own expectations and desires but also benchmark them against competitors or industry standards. The collected qualitative and quantitative data will enable a company to redesign purpose and performance content and identify the most effective ways of communicating purpose and performance strategies to different stakeholders. A more detailed report can be obtained from Burson-Marsteller free of charge. Please contact André Wigger. 

Burson-Marsteller Purpose and Performance  

Driving Corporate Success in Tough Economic Times