Reputation Road Trip

March 06, 2009

Reputation Road Trip

Blizzard of cities. After I last wrote in Barcelona, traveled to Munich, the Hauge/Amsterdam, Brussels and Geneva. Finally back in New York. Barely had time to blog so catching up with my travels now. Each meeting raised different items about online reputation management: How do you manage when you are getting 2, 500 Tweets per day? Should CEOs blog? What do you do when a bad bad bad blogger posting is among the top five hits on Google? How do you manage online reputation management when senior management does not see the ROI?  Why are senior executives less worried about their professional reputations than their corporate reputations? Should CEOs Twitter? How do you convince your senior management that online reputation management is important to follow? What’s ahead three years from now?  Financial institutions have legal restrictions that prevent them from disclosing too much information, what choices are there? Interestingly, no one questioned the value of reputation online or offline. I guess they would not have attended our discussions if they did. But no one mentioned that their CEOs were disbelievers. What became clear is that there are no set in stone rules of engagement when it comes to online reputation management. Just like crises overall, the best prevention is preparation. 


In each meeting, I asked people how many people had sent an email to someone by mistake. Nearly everyone raised their hand. Confirms our finding that 87% of senior executives have sent an email to the wrong person or received one not intended for themselves. I also asked how many had social media profiles in sites such as Facebook. The majority raised their hands. Twitter was the dividing line where there were some haves and have-nots. 


Few things worth mentioning now that I am back in New York. Fortune came out with its World’s Most Admired Companies survey. They have consolidated the two versions – America’s Most Admired and World’s Most Admired — into one World’s Most Admired.  Senior editor Geoff Colvin’s article quoted me saying that “The leader still makes or breaks a company’s reputation – we should never forget that.”


Caught up on some reading about managing in a recession by managment guru and writer Jim Collins. He mentions a few important factors that keep some companies great and some….not so great or ungreat (not a word I know). Here are a few interesting thoughts to keep in mind as companies pursue the most admired mantle in these mean times:


  • The more challenged you are, the more you have to have your values.
  • If’s there’s a storm on the mountain, more important than the plan are the people you have with you.
  • Turbulence is your friend.

When I came through Immigration last night (early this morning European time), the guy checking my passport said to me, “hey lady, tell your boss you need a rest.” I’m taking a nap.

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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.

  • Carrie
    Posted at 13:08h, 10 March Reply

    Hi Leslie,How far a risk do you think employees are to a firm’s online reputation? Do you think that an internal compnay blogging forum would be a good idea to increase employee satisfaction (managers engaging in conversations etc.) and therefore lessen this risk?

  • Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross
    Posted at 14:47h, 10 March Reply

    Thanks Carrie for your question. Our new research among executives worldwide ( found that executives consider employees’ negative chatter a major risk to their reputation. It is among the top three online reputation risks. An internal company blogging forum, wiki or shared site is a good idea, depending on the company’s culture. A very good example is Best Buy who has such a site called It is an internal employee chat/information sharing/commentary site that gives employees an outlet for reaching executives and for bubbling up problems before they find themselves outside the company walls.

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