Image: The driver of reputation


Gwyneth Howell and Nigel De Bussy.

For week 8 there were two readings that both focused on reputation management and the vital role it plays.

Reputation management is a strong focal point of public relations. It incorporates core aspects of an organisation and refers to the outward image, brand, identity and corporate culture an organisation extends to its publics, but mainly focuses on the interpretation and adoption of these aspects (De Bussy, N, 2009).

With publics and stakeholders defined as the “heart and soul of corporate public relations” (De Bussy, 2009, p.227), it only seems fair that management of these relationships is the first step towards a healthy reputation.  With the chapter identifying the strong link between concerned stakeholders, shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, governments and communities (De Bussy, 2009) and improved financial performance for organisations. Noting that “organisations with satisfied stakeholders are also likely to enjoy a good reputation” (De Bussy, 2009, p.232). Personally I find customer service to be a major determinant of reputation. Drawing on past experiences if I am ill-treated or simply don’t like someone’s service I will go elsewhere. Is it really that hard to simply smile and say please or thank you?

According to Mahon and Wartick (cited in De Bussy, 2009), reputation heavily relies on credibility and consistency. It is highly influential and can determine the success or failure of an organisation. But with this in mind can reputation be necessarily managed or controlled?

Personally I am undecided simply due to the fact that reputation is extremely fragile. It can be destroyed in an instant, but can take years to build or mend. Whether it be a poor decision or lack of branding, reputation can have a detrimental and long-term effect on an organisation.

Not only in the corporate world but also in the real world reputation is extremely influential. It is often hard to manage and hard to measure (De Bussy, N, 2009), but it is what you do with the reputation that is the most vital action.

As evidenced in chapter 10 a crisis or issue can lead to a bad reputation. There are a wide range of crises that according to Puachant and Mitroff 1992 (cited in Howell, 2009), tend to cluster together and form five distinctive groups.

–          External economic attacks e.g. extortion

–          Megadamage e.g. environmental

–          Breaks e.g. product defects

–          External information attacks e.g. copyright infringement

–          Psycho e.g. terrorism

This chapter highlights the vulnerability of organisations and also the unpredictable nature of the internal and external working environments. It just goes to prove that reputation cannot be controlled and that customer relations is not the only determinant of success.

Like life not many things go to plan or can be mapped out, as concluded in the chapter, “the most important issue faced by public relations professionals is maintaining context of the message in the public arena’ (Howell, 2009, p.292).


–          De Bussy, R. (2009). Reputation Management: A Driving Force for Action. In J. Chia & G. Synnott (eds), An introduction to public relations from theory to practice. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

–          Howell, G (2009). An Issues Crisis Perspective. In J. Chia & G. Synnott (eds), An introduction to public relations from theory to practice. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.


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