Public Relations vs. Reputation Risk: When Does The Former Become The Latter?

Michael D. Moberly   November 24, 2014   ‘A blog where attention span really matters;!

Admittedly, having worked almost exclusively on the intangible side of businesses for 20+ years, this question still is not an easy one to answer, nor perhaps, should it.

In part, I suspect, it’s because a company’s reputation is the epitome of an intangible asset, and unfortunately, for far too many company management team members…

  • intangible assets have yet to be operationally integrated into their lexicon.
  • have yet to cross the ever narrowing chasm which distinguishes conventional PR issues and the ‘over night’ rapidity which they can transform into full blown, costly, and irreversible reputation risks.

Perhaps, one distinction between a public relations issue (problem) and a materialized reputation risk is…

  • the time frame in which either can and/or will ‘fester and/or exacerbate’ among consumers, shareholders, stakeholders, and investors to the point,
  • someone, often a previously voiceless individual quantifies its adverse affects – impact to the company’s reputation and articulates the connection.

But, using ‘consumer festering time’ as a metric for distinguishing public relations and reputation risk assumes each company has the capability to correctly assess – distinguish public relations issues for their near term gravity and/or criticality, i.e.,

  • through a lens exclusive of the lens of consumers, investors, and other stakeholders, and
  • possess a clear understanding of the various intangible assets which collectively comprise a company’s reputation.

Exacerbating the issue further is another reality, which is, decision makers’ inclination to calculate adverse affects in quarterly contexts, regardless how an event is being characterized, i.e., as a public relations or reputation risk problem. Through my lens, calculating adverse affects in quarterly contexts is more aligned with the notion of assuming there are quick public relations ‘fixes or patches’ versus more strategic reputation risk management!

As always reader comments are welcome and respected.




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