Clawing Back Your Reputation

September 22, 2011

Clawing Back Your Reputation

Whatever the merits on both sides, I wanted to point out here that what I thought was happening in the reputation warfare field is actually coming to pass.  Increasingly more companies are fighting back when they believe their reputations are at stake. Perhaps companies recognize that public opinion might be on their side as the general public loses trust in institutions. But without a doubt, companies are not necessarily turning the other cheek when they think their reputations have been unfairly damaged. In this blog, I have mentioned the increasing frequency of company documentaries that serve to tell their side of the story. Today’s article about Del Monte’s public spat with food regulators over restrictions on its cantalope imports underscores the trend.  To quote from the article,

“The company, which is one of the country’s largest produce marketers, says the restrictions could damage its reputation, and it has sued the Food and Drug Administration to lift them.”

“But advocates of safe food said that it was extremely rare for a major food company to take such a publicly aggressive stance, and that they suspected Del Monte Fresh Produce was trying to bully regulators into thinking twice before pursuing recalls in the future.”

Expect to see more of this in the future.

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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.

  • Joseph Fiore
    Posted at 15:02h, 22 September Reply

    Thanks for sharing this story.This is a change from the usual and loud bickering heard from critics and skeptics lamenting about regulators being in the lap of corporations and their interests.

    As refreshing as this story may be to the same ole same ole, the backdrop to situations like these, which essentially attempt to buck the trend of more stringent regulatory practices, is an eye-opener and ought to involve more public consideration and awareness.

    Specifically, on the points about the burden on regulators to not only be able to govern and administrate more stringent regulations/restrictions, and more importantly, whether they have the adequate funding in place to handle an outbreak situation without bankrupting the department or agency.

    With this story, requirements escalate a need to fund agencies in order to protect themselves against rogue corporate and private interests.

    Within the context of reputational optics and causal-consequential overtones, I question whether a company already hand-slapped for food contamination issues might be throwing their reputation to the wind by contesting regulators restrictions, especially if a future issue and/or outbreak overwhelms a community or state’s ability to respond before it becomes a threat to public health.

    On thing is for certain. In a hypothetical situation where a salmonella outbreak links back to a company with not only a violation history, but one revealing attempts to oversteer or bypass regulators restrictions by way of litigation, any boisterous sideline cheering heard now by would quickly be substituted by a deafening silence and scatter.


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