Archive for October, 2016

Reputation Risk, Once Materialized, Is Not A Public Relations Challenge!

October 25th, 2016. Published under Reputation risk., Systemic Risk. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly October 23, 2016 ‘A blog where intangible assets and IP meet business’!

I am consistently frustrated when allegations surface about another service (sector) company is alleged to have engaged in predatory practices toward consumers (their own) customers, i.e., prey to schemes which, at best, are sleazy and unethical. My frustrations heighten as audacious, grandiose, and lawyerly responses emerge to accommodate news cycles globally. My initial assessment (reaction) to most of the now, unfortunately, all-too-common ‘gotcha’ responses by c-suite executive is they seem to carry a subtext of condescension, i.e., the alleged acts occurred years previous and we (the company) have addressed them. Often the subtext is, the alleged acts were part of a business unit, or perhaps company-wide culture whose prey was consumer – customer gullibility. Through these lens, distinguishing right from wrong are not malleable social constructs, rather, easily defined absolutes!

Frustration also lies in organization leadership who, once brought (subpoenaed) before the public eye, frequently assert little, if any, personal knowledge of specifics, but, endeavor to characterize them as originating in a ‘rogue’ component of the larger organization. Well, of course they did, that is, until the evidentiary quicksand (truth) eventually forces them to describe it otherwise.

Another troubling aspect is that organizations frequently (initially) treat these types of allegations as mere public relations challenges which can be rapidly repaired – remediated with focused-grouped print and media ad buys. And, of course, the not-so-subtle perception such ad buy’s wish to convey is, the alleged misdeeds do not, and never have, represented the (operating) mission-principles of this organization, and oh, by the way, before judging us too harshly, consider all the nice things (contributions, donations, etc.) this organization has done – is doing in your community. Yes, in many instances that’s probably true, but, shouldn’t it prompt us to wonder the circumstances in which those contributions – donations originated? It wasn’t that many years ago when, the realities of apartheid could no longer be subjugated – forsaken to profits by numerous U.S. companies and institutions, i.e., divestiture!

Hopefully, organizations that find themselves adversely mired in uncorrected misdeeds will realize they are more than mere PR challenges that presume to have specific starting and ending points to a public rehabilitation. Instead, there is the materialization of indeterminate qualitative and quantitative reputation risk that will surely manifest as customers, clients, and consumers find it in their interest to wholly withdraw or minimize their relationships with culturally tainted companies. The lessons are many here, perhaps the most significant is, there are fewer organization practices, behaviors, and/or events, which, when-if they go awry, can or should be dealt with as mere amelioration of the public.