About Me

This blog carries a series of posts and articles, mostly written by Anthony Fitzsimmons under the aegis of Reputability LLP, a business that is no longer trading as such. Anthony is a thought leader in reputational risk and its root causes, behavioural, organisational and leadership risk. His book 'Rethinking Reputational Risk' was widely acclaimed. Led by Anthony, Reputability helped business leaders to find, understand and deal with these widespread but hidden risks that regularly cause reputational disasters. You can contact Anthony via anthony.fitzsimmons At cranfield dot ac dot uk

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

PR - How not to improve your Reputation!

The success of the PR industry has recently been measured, and some surprising findings have emerged.

YouGov, who carried out the research found that the PR industry in the UK is forecast to be worth £9.62 billion, that's 28% more than in 2011, when the research was last carried out. There are now 62,000 employees in the industry.

YouGov also reported that 'Overall, PR professionals are confident of continuing growth in revenue and headcount'.

It is all the more surprising, perhaps, to note that the incidence and scale of corporate crises has continued undiminished over this PR golden age. Could it be that there is little correlation between an increased spend on communications and a reduction in business catastrophes? Could it be that the money that is being pumped into Public Relations is a waste of time and resources? Is it that professional communicators cannot prevent crises? Perhaps they miss the warning signs altogether? Or are they aware of the behavioural and organisational complexities which underpin crises, but are powerless to influence them?

Reputability's research, 'Deconstructing failure - Insights for boards', demonstrates how often the root cause of most reputation-damaging activity stems from the organisation's board and, to date, few PR professionals are represented here. Equally worrying is the fact that most Risk Managers are also too junior to have board positions. The combined absence of these two key functions contributes to the information 'glass ceiling' where boards simply miss out on knowing what is actually happening on a day to day basis in their companies.

My own view about the growth and buoyancy of Public Relations is that the greatest impact made in recent times has been as a large contributor to the excellent marketing seen in most organisations today. But even this can be seen as a double-edged sword. In fact, the very success of PR and marketing can raise customer expectations to such a level that when the delivery of the product or service proves to be distinctly underwhelming there is a consequent rise in customer complaints and a massive dent in corporate reputation.

PR can never be a substitute for sound policy-making and good governance. Those companies which seek to exclude communications professionals from decision-making, and view the PR function merely as a convenient mechanism for glossing the corporate reputation are likely to receive a very rude awakening.

Jane Howard FCIPR
Reputability LLP

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