A Playbook for Recoverers

August 23, 2009

A Playbook for Recoverers

I always enjoy reading something written by Ram Charan who is one of the world’s most respected business gurus. He wrote an article in Fortune called “My (Recovery) Playbook.” I wonder if he saw my book on reputation recovery. Anyhow, the article is about several companies that are not waiting for the economy to improve but are jumping right in now to make sure they are ahead of the pack when it does recover. In the article, Charan uses examples from GE, Nalco, Avon and Waste Management.

GE CEO Jeff Imelt has an interesting quote on how he learned to change the way GE communicates during this economic downturn:

“The business press isn’t always the most complimentary to GE these days. So we hired people from different backgrounds — like political backgrounds — to teach us how to communicate better to our investors and to our own people.

I’d have to say we are much better at communicating because of the crisis than we were before, when we could just take our reputation for granted.”

I have no doubt that GE and Immelt have taken a serious look at how they manage their reputation now that it is not as effortless as it used to be. And since communications is an integral part of reputation management online and offline, GE probably did have to change course and learn from others with different kinds of experiences to steady its reputation and get it back on track. For one, I was pleased to see that he deemed communications important enough to make it the lesson he learned and told Charan about. I could not agree more.  I have written many blog posts about what Immelt has said about managing GE’s reputation and have been particularly fascinated by his frequent use of “resetting GE’s reputation.” Most companies rarely have the opportunity to take their reputations for granted and find that it is a 24/7 responsibility that has only grown harder as the Internet has invaded our lives at home and at work. As I scan the landscape of most admired companies, it is hard to believe that any are invincible these days.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

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 corporate and CEO reputations.

  • Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross
    Posted at 00:00h, 24 August Reply

    Kirk, thanks for the comment. I agree that the best pr practitioners can bring perspective and broad knowledge to their jobs. We all get caught up in “management-think” and “management-speak” and sometimes have to break loose and see it from another angle. Best, lgr

  • Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA
    Posted at 01:13h, 24 August Reply

    I found this posting by Dr. Gaines-Ross encouraging for those of us who teach communications in liberal arts colleges. The one thing I stress to my Curry College students as a former public relations practitioner turned educator is the importance of gaining a familiarity with a wide range of subjects; I advise them that this broad knowledge base will stand them in good stead when called on to either communicate on behalf of an employer or provide advice and counsel to senior management in preparation for that communication. They are better able to see things from a different perspective…occasionally not in lock-step with “management-think,” but definitely reflective of the public’s varied viewpoints.

  • Ciera Hajek
    Posted at 09:13h, 04 April Reply

    Hello! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I really enjoy reading through your articles. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same subjects? Appreciate it!

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