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You Don't 'Manage' Reputation: You Earn It

Posted on August 8, 2015 at 5:30 PM

It seems we are all getting into a terrible muddle in 2015 about 'reputation' - when it comes to business.

So let's go back to the OED for a definition: 'Reputation: the beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something - a widespread belief that someone or something has a particular characteristic."

In other words, reputations exist: they have a life of their own, based on what you do as a business, how you do it and how it comes across to people who are capable, mosly, of making up their own minds. A reputation is not the same thing as advertising, and it is not the same thing as a brand: although if the two merge in a good way that reflects well on your business, you are winning.

Suddenly however, there seem to be a lot of so-called 'reputation management' firms about. These are PR firms that tell clients they can help 'manage' (for which read 'massage) their reputation. How do they do this?

Here is what Wikipedia thinks : "Reputation management is the influencing and/or control of an individual's or business's reputation. Originally a public relations term, the advancement of internet and social media use, along with reputation management companies, have made it primarily an issue of search results."

Ah, but no - Wikipedia is well behind the times. Let me tell you - as I have had several emails from one persistent 'reputation management' firm in particular, lucky not to be named here. But I will cut and paste the email, which came last week after i foolishly responded to the first one spelling out my charges for writing services....as it was not clear what they wanted.

Me: "It is against the rules for Forbes contributors to be paid for links."

Best- Dina

Them - on 6 August 2015 at 14:29, wrote:

"Hey Dina,

That's okay if you can't, we were willing to pay whatever you had asked. Can you not just post a link or do a small mention in your articles on Forbes? Or is that too just going against the policies? We just have many clients who want to be featured of (sic) Forbes, that is why were looking for writer to hire.


So that's it. Almost a decade after the financial crisis, it seems we have learnt nothing. I didn't know whether to despair more about the complete lack of ethics, or the appalling grammatical construct. Also, shameless to put it in an email....

Of course, what I should have done is played along until I found out who the clients were - instead, I just forwarded it to Forbes.

Categories: Governance, Ethics, Media