“For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.”
–Stuart Chase, 20th century American economist and social commentator
When your reputation is on the line, your ability to save it depends on what other people believe. That in turn depends not just upon the facts, but upon your believability.
Never lose sight of this. Whenever allegations are made, you always face an uphill fight. Society is more cynical than ever before. It’s easier to believe the bad than it is to hope for the good. It’s also satisfying to watch the powerful fall, in a voyeuristic sort of way.
It wasn’t always so. At least that’s what we’d like to believe. In our minds, we’ve created an idealized “good old days” when life was simpler and safer and men were more moral. Think Jimmy Stewart’s stereotypical character George Bailey in the 1940s film “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Compare that with today. Corruption is rampant among businesses and elected officials. In Los Angeles County alone, those running half a dozen cities are accused of violating the public trust. On a list of things they admire least, Americans rank Congress below cockroaches, root canals and ebola.
What’s this mean for protecting reputations? Simple. If accusations are made, you’re presumed guilty until proven innocent. Even if the allegations are ultimately found false, the stench of perceived impropriety will linger. The media is at least partly responsible because bad news is big news, while good news is buried.
That’s why Crisis & Reputation Management has two parts: Fixing the immediate problem, then providing a narrative for long-term redemption. The latter takes longer but is equally important, if not more so. If you don’t do what’s necessary to repair your reputation for the future, the immediate fix might not hold — and the tarnish will return.
“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”
Gillott Communications is a Los Angeles-based public relations firm that specializes in high-stakes Crisis & Reputation Management. If you don’t already subscribe, please sign up for our blog Insights on High-Stakes PR. You can reach Roger Gillott directly at 310-826-8696.