Countering Rumors that Harm Reputation

In an article today on the academic dream team that consulted with President Obama's team, a few lessons are shared that should be helpful for the public sector and CEOs or other executives. The group of behavioral scientists who were unpaid advised that voters focus on two characteristics in choosing a president or leader -- competence and warmth. This is especially good advice for new CEOs coming into office to hear. The article states that Romney had the competence factor working for him but less so the emotional warmth factor, particularly with all the negative advertising that many people saw. Clearly, CEOs have to project both factors to gain support from their followers. Another lesson to be learned that was shared in the article is useful for companies facing crises (who isn't?). The social scientists that made up the dream team advised the Democrats running the Obama campaign that when it comes to neutralizing rumors, it is best not to deny the charge but to affirm a competing one. The example given was how the rumors about President Obama being a Muslim stuck over the long term but their advice (and probably well taken) was to counteract that rumor by asserting that Obama is a Christian. I do recall hearing that. Good advice that can apply to corporate leaders faced with hearsay and wanting to deflect innuendos.

the truth be told

 No doubt you have heard about icorrect.com -- the web site that sets the record straight about rumors and hearsay. The website says that it  is about protecting " one’s reputation in cyberspace forever." ICorrect was started by the founder of Shanghai Tang, the terrifically classy and expensive department store chain. Since I was recently in China, I certainly did not pass up the opportunity to drop into Shanghai Tang and admire all its beautiful apparel and items. It is known as a luxury lifestyle brand.  Sir David, the founder and businessman, began this web site to help people clear up misinformation that lives permanently on the Internet. Several well-known celebrities and luminaries have taken to clearing their records. Anyone can view the corrections although to post costs $1,000 annually. There are posts from Cherie Blair, Sienna Miller and Michael Cain. I do wonder if they are actually took the trouble to post these corrections but it seems to be the case.

 Here is an example -- the accusation followed by the correction.

Accusation: Kate Moss to make her acting debut in Shakespeare's The Tempest

Kate Moss is taking the acting world by storm - making her stage debut in the Tempest. The supermodel, 36, has landed a minor role as a nymph in an upcoming version of Shakespeare's play. It follows a series of meetings and phone calls with Kevin Spacey who is overseeing the production as part of the Bridge project at London's Old Vic. Our spy tells us: "Kate has had several acting lessons and is keen to broaden her.......

Correction from Kevin Spacey, the actor:

We met at a party but never discussed her working at the Old Vic. There isn't even a role of "Nymph" in The Tempest.

I am curious how many people will actually go this route to publicallydefend themselves. It remains to be seen but it has attracted a fair amount of attention in the media since ICorrect launched.  I was alittle surprised in the About Us section when it read, "So far, the likes of Wikipedia and Google searches consist entirely of hearsays. ICorrect uniquely provides 'words from the horses mouth'."  I am not entirely sure that most people would agree that Wikipedia and Google consists predominantly of hearsay nor that the expression about the horse's mouth fits as an explanation. I do wholeheartedly agree that it is very hard to obliterate myths and rumors.

Definitely worth watching the site as companies, individuals and institutions fight back to protect their good names.