Reputation Forgiveness?

April 20, 2011

Reputation Forgiveness?

 Lately I have been wondering if there is such a thing as reputation forgiveness. As I read the news over the past few weeks regarding Warren Buffett’s misstep with David Sokol and I think about the one year anniversary of the horrific oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I got to thinking that just as reputation recovery takes several years to happen, reputation forgiveness might be something to consider. Should Buffett’s lifetime of good reputation outweigh his recent bruising? Is there a Pass Go and Collect $200 card that business and political leaders should be able to play. Of course, mere mortals like myself don’t get those types of passes.  There are some acts of reputation forgiveness, all to different degrees and all depending on the “crime.”  Former President Bill Clinton has indoubtedly received some measure of reputation forgiveness since the Monica Lewinsky debacle. Elliot Spitzer is now an anchor on CNN.  Michael Milliken and Martha Stewart have received doses of forgiveness (both having spent in jail which perhaps fast tracks forgiveness, not sure). The list is too long to even consider. Something worth thinking about.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross
lesliegainesross@gmail.com

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.

1Comment
  • Paul Seaman
    Posted at 11:49h, 21 April Reply

    Some scandals ruin people and corporations forever. But robust and well-grounded reputations survive embarrassing events rather well. Never mind what PR research reveals: The public love sinners and loathe saints. Bland might be the new corporate black…but it is boring, unappealing and smacks of spin. The great thing about the Tiger Woods “scandal” was discovering that he was human after all. Wayne Rooney is a true sporting hero but no role model for my kids… and a series cocaine binges boosted Kate Moss’s earning potential rather than ruining her career. Is Charlie Sheen really finished or is he, as I suspect, a bigger box office attraction than ever? Never mind bunga bunga and other scandals, Edelman’s trust survey reveals that trust in Silvio Berlusconi went up last year, not down. Even President Nixon eventually retook his seat at the establishment’s top-table. Winston Churchill’s behaviour was outrageous. General Grant was so drunk on parade that he fell off his horse and then went on to become President of the United States of America etc.. The American spirit is all about second chances and re-creation. We ditch that openness and hope at our peril.

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