Reputation Leaders as Weathermen

February 16, 2014

Reputation Leaders as Weathermen

I found some research from Reputation Institute that I missed from last fall. My fault entirely and probably because I was nearing the end of the last quarter and work was more busy than ever. RI conducted interviews with 300 executives at leading companies around the world on their reputation journeys. Some of the findings are compelling and worth repeating — 79% agree that we are competing in a reputation economy (where who you are matters more than what you produce — nicely said) and only 20% say they are taking advantage of the opportunities open to them to manage their reputations better. 

A few quotes jumped out of me and I wanted to blog about specifically. One was from the head of global corporate reputation and responsibility at Telefonica. In the report, Alberto Andreu Pinnillos describes his team’s role similar to that of a bomb squad. That made me chuckle in recognition. That’s how it does feel to be on a team dedicated to understanding and protecting reputation today — first responders, SWAT teams, terrorist attacks, detection of threats, disposal of threats, disarming of threats, scenario planning, media monitoring and so forth. Another analogy is used in the report — reputation managers are akin to being meteorologists where you and your company are warning about or communicating exposure to extreme weather and the threats of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, high winds, turbulent seas and more coming at you full force. Earlier this morning I was reading about Target and the firestorm they’ve experienced over the hacking of customer credit card information. To them, the data hacking and breach is understandably a tsunami of woes. And, without a doubt, this is just the tip of the iceberg because other retailers will soon be revealed. That saying about everyone will experience their 15 minutes of fame and also their 15 minutes of shame is so true. 

The other quote that struck me and I wanted to share here was from the corporate VP for communications at Novo Nordisk who said the following: “I started out as a media relations officer, but today, if you look at how much time I’m in direct contact with the media, it’s roughly 5% of my time, and I don’t think it should be more.” That is indicative of how public relations and communications have changed over the past few years. There is an explosion of stakeholders that must be cared for, listened to and tended to — from investors, employees, NGOs, bloggers, influencers, patients, community and civic leaders, consumers, Tweeters, regulators, activists, and more. 

Worth sharing on a non-snowy Sunday (for a change).  

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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.

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