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Morrow Sodali invests in new research capabilities

Morrow Sodali invests in new research capabilities

19 September 2022

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Morrow Sodali APAC is pleased to announce that we are expanding our core service offering to better meet the needs of our growing client base by investing in new sophisticated and targeted research capabilities.

With over 20 years' experience in shareholder engagement, corporate governance and stakeholder research, we are the leading global provider of strategic ESG advice and shareholder services to corporate boards and executives.

This has always included helping them to anticipate and respond to issues of concern to their investors, and now we are enhancing our capacity to provide actionable, research-driven insights that can deliver measurable benefits for corporations, industry associations, government departments, non-profit organisations and political campaigns.

Under the direction of our newly appointed Managing Director – Campaigns & Research in APAC, Andrew Laidlaw, and through our offices in Australia, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong, we can assist organisations across the Asia-Pacific to develop strategies and tactical actions to win votes, manage reputation, position brands, advocate to governments, navigate crises, cultivate employee loyalty and build support.

Productive relationships with internal and external stakeholders are best founded on a deep understanding of how to actively manage their perceptions by finding ways to increase your equities and decrease your inequities, says Laidlaw.

"Effective communication is not about simply delivering your message and assuming that people will agree with you once they hear it," says Laidlaw. "You need to recognise what drives their perceptions and behaviour before you can develop strategic imperatives and effective tactical action plans. Once you know how people reach decisions, you can develop arguments to tap into those drivers."

In an uncertain and rapidly changing operating environment, the ability to gather high-quality data through both qualitative and quantitative research enables Morrow Sodali to bring more rigour to campaign and vote strategies, and to provide our clients with the ability to anticipate stakeholder reactions to issues to stay ahead of the curve.

Yet data alone does not yield actionable recommendations, Laidlaw adds.

"There are many research providers in the market who can generate commoditised data dumps," he says. "We want to really partner with our clients on using targeted research to facilitate strategic planning, to identify emerging trends and then develop strategies to manage them in their organisation's favour."

A key focus will be empowering organisations to assess the impacts of all their actions and activities on corporate reputation, which should be viewed as perceptual equity that can be accumulated and deployed like any other form of capital, says Laidlaw.

"Understanding how to build an organisation's perceptual equity, how to use it and when, is an area where we believe we can add considerable value for our clients," says Laidlaw.

"Every time an organisation takes a position on a social issue, they are deploying capital. Doing so effectively is about coming out at a time when people actually want to listen, having something salient to add to the debate - something personally relevant to your stakeholders, not just Twitter - and not simply repeating what everyone else says, which sometimes only diminishes your standing.

"Reliable opinion research data arms you with the knowledge of when to speak out, how to be personally relevant to your stakeholders and deliver a differentiated message to help you stand out from the crowd."

With the assistance of suppliers and partners across the region, Morrow Sodali will provide a suite of comprehensive research capabilities and related consulting services to organisations in all the major markets of APAC.

"We have the capacity to run multi-country research projects for a range of different sectors, and in my experience when you go to the drivers of the data, you can find very strong commonalities to help a company with diverse stakeholders communicate and behave in a proactive strategic manner, rather than ad-hoc and tactical," says Laidlaw.

"There may be differences in language, culture and sub-groups etc, but once you strip those away, our methodologies typically reveal there are shared values that drive stakeholder behaviour, no matter what country they are in."

Aside from conducting research in many countries, Laidlaw has also worked across a wide range of industries including resources and mining, finance and banking, retail, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, energy, entertainment, consumer goods, sport, construction and agriculture.

And he has assisted on more than 30 political campaigns in Australia and abroad, including working in political offices in Washington DC and for POLITICO covering the 2008 US presidential campaign, where he says he learned lessons that have proved invaluable in his subsequent career.

"Politics is an extremely high-stakes game with a binary outcome," he says. "It taught me to focus on outcomes, not process.

"It was a good thing to experience early in my career, because I have since found that in the corporate world, the focus in research is too often on process at the expense of what is really important: providing the client with strategic imperatives that add significant, measurable value to their organisation and effective, tactical action plans to deliver on objectives."

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