Mirror, Mirror on the wall, Whose Reputation is the worst of all?

A Number of consultants and media outlets have researched and taken a look at some of 2006’s worst reputation disasters. Study these and learn from the actions taken and not taken. 

PR Missteps and Masterstrokes – A look at some of the public relations disasters—and coups—in the business world in 2006 

Interestingly the keywords in most of these examples point to human error, and/or human behavior and actions. Perhaps organisations are making a crucial error when they assume that executives, managers and staff know that the organisation’s reputation is important. 

It reminds me of a story told by a friend of mine who is a very dedicated safety expert. He always says the following; when people say that safety consciousness thinking is just common sense that: “Safety is not common sense. There is nothing common about common sense.” For the past eleven years I have facilitated many health & safety training programs for him and it is always astounding when managers come to me afterwards to thank me for the basic lessons that I have just taught them. They always say thanks for the decrease in their lack of knowledge. 

Assumptions can be very dangerous. It is like the legal statement: “What would a reasonable person have done?” What is reasonable? There is a key lesson from the training industry that is very useful in this regard namely that Repetition is the mother of skill. If you want someone to do a task to a certain level of competence, then you need to tell them over and over again until they get the message. 

For me it is very clear that organizations’ assume that their management teams know how to manage reputation and leverage this asset, especially during a crisis. This assumption is a dangerous one as can be seen from the various examples. 

If you want your managers to manage and look after your organisation’s biggest but most fragile asset, you need to empower them with the necessary knowledge, tools and techniques to do so. 


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