Michael D. Moberly May 7, 2016 ‘A blog where attention span really matters’!
Once acts, events, or behaviors, perceived as adverse or illegal materialize, and are captured and distributed on social media, and intensified through photographic characterizations that convey indefensible aggressiveness, hostility, and confrontational demeanors by authorities…well, these are Dr. Nir Kossovsky’s prime ingredients for a hard to refute reputation risk.
The originating incident represented in this post occurred in November, 2011, sparked by an order from University of California-Davis administrators for their campus police department to remove ‘Occupy Wall Street’ (movement) protesters encamped on university property.
As if the manner in which that order was executed, i.e., the accompanying behaviors-demeanors exhibited by university police were not enough, in mid-April 2016, Sam Stanton and Diana Lambert, reporters for the Sacramento Bee (newspaper) learned and wrote that senior University of California-Davis officials, already operating under extremely tight economic constraints (placed on the entire UC system), had spent at least $175,000, following the 2011 incident to hire outside consultants to engage in an “online branding campaign designed to clean up the negative attention UC-Davis, and its Chancellor, Dr. Linda Katehi had received.”
It is not my intent here to re-litigate – second-guess the event and the actions of university police. That’s for others to interpret-decide ala reading the independent investigation chaired by Cruz Reynoso, a former associate justice of the California Supreme Court along with a separate, independent fact-finding document assembled by Kroll, a consulting firm that specializes in investigations.
The point I wish to make here is that the university’s resourcing for ‘an online branding campaign designed to clean up the negative attention UC-Davis, and its Chancellor had received” was misplaced, likely produced little, if any measurable return, and online activities for this purpose variously discount – are dismissive of intellectual memory.
To be sure, I am not suggesting an outcome of this incident, however needless and botched it was, would necessarily translate as stifling student applications to attend UC-Davis. Similarly, being reasonably well versed in reputation risk matters and their mitigation, I am hard pressed to embrace the premise that ‘online clean-up of negative’ – adverse publicity, standing alone, will measurably mitigate or reverse reputation risks which have already materialized.
Reputation, is a variously delicate intangible asset with relevance to every company, organization, institution, and individual. After all, reputation is perhaps the most complex of intangible assets which for the most part derives from perceptions, experiences, and observations of others. Respecting the expanding reliance on various social media as people’s primary means (source) for receiving – conveying information, I remain, at this point, unconvinced that the act of erasing or favorably modifying – re-writing existing (on-line) information in open source, is a viable path or perhaps even ethical practice for trying to re-attach or re-affirm reputation in which risk has materialized.