Tag: reputation (page 1 of 1)

Who are you?

[Originally written for the CIPR Friday Roundup.]

Identity is not a black and white thing. Sure, at one end of the spectrum anonymity reigns. This is the world of 4chan, the popular image-based bulletin board from which famous memes such as lolcats and Rickrolling emerged. At the other end of the spectrum we have passport border control.

And in between we have many shades of identity.

Nightclub handstamps for example are needed only to ascertain who has already paid. Many a website cookie serves just to determine if you've dropped by before. A supermarket loyalty card serves just to build up an understanding of your shopping habits, and may be associated with a bank card proffered for payment.

OK, so what has this got to do with marketing and public relations?

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Guilty – The CIPR Friday Roundup

We have a fundamental tenet in our Western societies – innocent until proven guilty. The problem we have now is simply that reputation pivots faster via the social Web than can be adjudged in the courtroom.

I have no idea whatsoever whether Dominique Strauss-Kahn did or did not rape or sexually molest the hotel maid. But he has already lost his job heading up the International Monetary Fund. His chances to run for senior government office are dashed. If he's found guilty, then you might say all's well and good, but he is currently innocent until proven guilty, and may never be found guilty. Charges may even be dropped. Where's the "all's well and good" in that?

This trend is significant for reputation management – of organisations as well as individuals.

And yet given the radical and real-time transparency of the social Web, I've been saying recently that 'reality is perception'. I posit that this is a more relevant axiom today than the one that dominated the 20th Century, 'perception is reality'. Am I not, therefore, contradicted here? Read more

Not PR – Friday Roundup

"CELEBRITIES, blue-chip companies and tourist attractions are using a new breed of PR company to hide their secrets and damaging press stories in Google search results. Online 'reputation management' agencies promise to suppress negative search results by driving them down the rankings."

So opens an article in The Times on Wednesday this week. (I can't provide the link to The Times as I'm not a subscriber to its paywall, but it's syndicated here, sans paywall, to sister publication The Australian.)

On reading the article, part of me recognised this sort of capability at the same time another part of me felt very uncomfortable with it being associated directly with PR. And then I winced some more...

"[These agencies] typically use thousands of social networking profiles - set up using false names and operated using computer software to simulate the behaviour of a real person - to talk about and link to more positive results, pushing them above the negative stories."

This is NOT public relations. This is not two-way communication aspiring to foster mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics. Such activities clearly breach the CIPR's code of conduct, specifically its references to integrity and honesty. A PR professional never knowingly misleads about the nature of their representation. Read more