001 Corporate Reputation Matters

I have decided to join the blogging world. Thanks for joining me here. Previously my views were only on Facebook, IM, Twitter, conference hallways, the back row at conferences, or the classroom.

Most of my entries here will focus on corporate reputation matters. Including its definition, measurement, monitoring, management, risk management, building, change, repair, and valuation. I will primarily advance a view that links reputation to organizational identity, development and change, communication, feedback, and learning. I will make communication front-and-center—and focus on what one person (primarily the chief communication officer) can do to enact change in his or her organization.  I am happy to engage anyone on these or other topics through the comments below.


What got me here? I guess it is my interest in the ideas of mission, purpose, corporate character, core values, and organizational identity. So why am I not writing about these ideas? Right now, I have nothing new to say about them. There are enough other people writing about these topics. My general view is that if you are a part of a top management team, you are probably not going to listen to someone talking to you about these in the context of your organization.

But on the other hand, reputation? Probably so. I have found corporate reputation to be a powerful lever for getting top management teams to pause long enough to listen–whether it is to your Chief Communication Officer, your board, your employees, your consumer, or a social movement. (Of course, the​y also listen if there is the threat of legislation, regulation, litigation, ​or​ going to jail.)

There is something empowering that I find about the idea of corporate reputation. It is something that everyone understands, and collectively, can discuss, and even​ have an impact on. It is the first thing people want to know when deciding whether make a high-risk purchase or transaction. And it is the last decision they make the moment before they tune out and stop listening. (Ok. There is nothing ​empowering about that.) But there is something “accountable” about the people and organizations who ​listen to what others have to say about their companies’ reputations. And that is the weakness I find with too much focus on organizational identity, corporate culture, and values. Too much of a focus ​on these other endearing aspects, and organizations get wrapped up in themselves, close themselves off​, and stop listening—right about the moment they need to start.


So, why does all this matter to me? I guess I love organizations. I grew up believing that organizations exist to accomplish goals that individuals could not accomplish on their own–and, I still believe that. But today, I also believe that organizations and their stakeholders can accomplish​ more and​ ​even larger ​goals than​ what​ organizations ​can accomplish on their own.  And ​for the reasons mentioned above, I think reputation ​is a lever to help do that. That is, ​ to ​help ​us (society) ​accomplish far more than they (or we) ever could ​on our own ​before​, as individuals or organizations​–by working through organizations, and when necessary, with a little help from their “friends.” There are enough other people speaking inside of organizations to create change. I hope that through this forum, we can say something “outside” that all organizations (and their people) can hear, that sparks internal and stakeholder dialogues.​


What I will not do is use the space for case studies pulled from the day’s headlines. ​I hope somehow that I give enough value, insight–at the very least, provocation–that I will not need to resort to piggy-backing off the latest crisis. ​ Being timely should not necessarily mean climbing off the back of a company in crisis, whether they deserve it or not. There are enough other blogs out there that do this​. Nevertheless, while I do hope to be prompt, I am going to try to put the focus on timeless. (I can dream, can’t I?)


What I hope you find is a forum for engaging not just on corporate reputation, but all the things that corporate reputation stands for​: organizational role models, exemplars, key lessons learned, leadership, corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, and organizational (and individual) health and well-being. Fundamentally, I want us to remember why organizations exist, and how we can leverage them to make the world a better, healthier, and more enjoyable place.

Thanks for joining me here​! Please share your thoughts below. Let me know what you think of the views I shared. And anything I might have neglected, got wrong, or overstated. ​

And a special thank you to Toni Muzi Falconi and Karen Freberg for encouraging me to join the conversation.

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