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Reputation: Can you really get a second chance?

Posted by: Diane Brady on February 01, 2008

Reputation is critical and admiration can be fleeting. More than half of the companies perceived as America’s most admired in 2002 were not in that position five years later. And the names that face actual scandal—Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, Martha Stewart Living—can take years to recover, if they get a chance to emerge again at all.

Leslie Gaines-Ross has just written a book called Corporate Reputation that breaks down the process of protecting and repairing your reputation into 12 steps. Gaines-Ross, who serves as Chief Reputation Strategist at Weber Shandwick, thinks that online scrutiny (via bloggers, activist groups, etc.) is the greatest threat facing companies today. Poor safety practices in a remote Chinese factory; a random aside or rude gesture from your CEO. All of it can reach an audience in seconds.

So what to do? One step is to communicate tirelessly with employees and stakeholders (and not just when you’re in a state of crisis). Another is to, as she puts it, ‘seize the shift’. Stay on top of the latest trends and news to be ahead of what’s happening to your business, instead of reacting to it.

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How can you manage smarter? BusinessWeek writers Nanette Byrnes, Patricia O’Connell, Emily Thornton, Matthew Boyle, Michelle Conlin and Diane Brady synthesize insights from the brightest business thinkers, critique the latest management trends, and comment on leaders in the news.

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