By way of a recent post from the Institute for Public Relations ("Where Should PR Sit in an Organization"), I learned about Prophet's US Reputation Study, which can be viewed HERE. PDF version of the study HERE.
I liked one of the study's takeaway points:
"As developments over the last two years have reinforced, reputation drivers are influenced by macro-economic forces and industry-specific factors. This makes it critical to be mindful of these circumstances in managing a reputation program. While half of the leading reputation drivers were consistent across 2009 and 2010, those that changed centered on the “macro” forces that impact all industries (e.g., pacesetter attributes like openness and behaving in an ethical manner)."
I think reputational drivers in the energy industry are heavily influenced by macro-economic forces and industry-specific factors, and I think most people realize this. However, I find mostly that how one defines "industry" ends up affecting whether one succeeds in navigating this reputational challenge.
For example, one can view the oil & gas industry as separate from the clean energy industry, and I think most companies operating in either camp insulate themselves as such, which may make sense from a purely "operational" perspective. However, this does not make sense at all from a reputational perspective if one thinks about what stakeholders expect, which is for pretty much every sector of the energy industry to be "clean" and working toward full sustainability from energy production and delivery (and "usage" too for those companies working in this emerging area of the energy business value chain).
This expectation may be unreasonable (one may think our energy system will not be fully "clean" for some time). However, if a company completely ignroes this stakeholder expectation and does not manage it in a strategic way, chances are the company may not survive in the future.
Thus in the end, in looking at industry-specific reputational factors, I think you have to cast a much wider net in your thinking about "industry."