Amith Prabhu: Reputation is not everything. It is the only thing

23 Feb,2015

By Amith Prabhu

 

It takes a jolt to make amends. The unexpected events that come our way in our public life can prompt us to get drowned with them or take steps to salvage the reputation at stake. The last week was interesting in terms of various incidents in political and corporate India.

 

The repercussion of Delhi elections was the subtle blame that BJP put on its leadership attributing it to the famous suit that the PM wore, blaming Obama for lecturing India on religious intolerance and the attacks on places of worship. And the PM who is the master of communicating through actions was quick to act. First, he addressed a Christian event and spoke against religious intolerance, next he put up that ill-fated suit for auction with the proceeds going to charity and lastly attending the wedding of the progeny of his arch rivals (Lalu and Mulayam) in rural UP.

 

Just as the Budget session draws near, does the news of the Corporate Espionage fiasco prop up. This incident is a can of worms which will bite many a corporate for a long time to come. The big daddies of energy are involved and it will take a long while to wriggle out of this mess.

 

In faraway Patna, Nitish Kumar tried doing a Kejriwal by apologising. But his circumstances were different and how people react to him cutting a sorry figure will be known in the elections. The three stories above are just instances of how people take reputation management seriously.

 

While all this played out in the media, it is important to understand that few individuals took decisions to make or break their reputation. It also underlines the adage that Reputation is not everything, most of the time it is the only thing.

 

This being the case, several organisations are taking narrative management very seriously and hiring senior journalists to look after corporate communications. While hiring journalists in corporate communications is not new, the number of journalists making the transition has grown exponentially. While they deal with the storytelling and media relations bit, there is an entire bit of strategy and campaign planning where they lag. However, if all that companies look for is relationships that help stop a negative story or to plant a positive story, that will do more harm than good in the long term.

 

Well, there will always be tough mazes to navigate. One has to be mindful that there are really no shortcuts. And for every shortcut one is shortchanging oneself in the reputation game.

 

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