Welcoming myself back from hiatus

April 6, 2010

Hope some of you missed me…I’ve been gone for nearly a month, vacation, out of office work, and how a grandkid-induced cold. In the meantime, of course the world goes on.

A few quick observations:

The West Virginia mine disaster–our thoughts and prayers are with the families. The news media of course played the standard litany of a long list of violations but then put family members on TV (CNN) who were crying out for information from the company about the status of their husband and father. That is terrible. Crisis managers: sear that picture in your mind. If you don’t immediately communicate with those directly affected you too will be pictured on national TV as not giving a mouse’s behind for the people who should be mattering most to you right now.

Toyota–so the gov slaps a $16.4m fine on the company. It still amazes me that no questions asked by the media about this. GM fining its biggest competitor? Sure, GM isn’t the regulator, but one of GM’s largest shareholders is the regulator. Still strikes me as strange and even more strange to have such little media and public discussion about the obvious conflict of interest when the government owns a player in a highly competitive market that it regulates. In the meantime, I see more signs of Toyota fighting back (attacking USA Today) as well as more hard evidence showing up it appears that they do indeed have some serious issues. so complex…

Tiger–Tiger is back on the golf course and the whole world seems a little more right. Seriously, the only comment I have to make is for those people (including Tiger) who said when this event happened that he only owed apologies to his family. I disagreed. I suggested that when you are a celebrity of this status you live or die on the loyalty and support of your fans, that there is a relationship there that matters, and he owes them one heck of a lot. By his press conference yesterday it appears that he now understands that. His future earning power and place in history will have a lot to do with his fan support. It seems to be there showing how forgiving people can be when there is or appears to be genuine repentance and contrition. So far, the signs that he is indeed humbled, repentant and contrite–but, the first sign of his former arrogance, anger, sense of entitlement and all bets are off.

Corporate reputations. The 2009 Harris Interactive survey of corporate reputations is out.  The headlines about this will tout the “improvement” overall in corporate reputations and the significant change in reputations of some companies and segments (Fords’ is on the rise, most who took bailout money have sunk big time). But I think the most interesting thing about this research is this:

•    Americans who said that Corporate America’s reputation is “Good” rose from 12% to 18%.
–    First increase in 4 years. •    Those that perceive it as “Not Good” or “Terrible” decreases from 88% to 81%.

Now, pay close attention folks. We are thinking here that going from 12 to 18% saying corporate America’s reputation is “good,” while 81% are still saying that corporate America’s reputation is “not good” or “terrible.”

That is absolutely horrifying but nothing new. There are millions of people who work for “corporate America” and while their friends and neighbors don’t think of them as bad, when lumped with their employers, the vast vast majority of people think they are really bad. The implications for crisis management is clear–when it hits the fan, you are already in a deep hole, I mean a deep hole. That puts you in a virtual no-win situation.

When is “corporate America” whoever that is going to understand how much this loss of trust and confidence costs them and do something about it? Are there things that can be done? Absolutely, but first it starts with a good understanding of what is behind this perception of terrible people running terrible organizations.


One Response to “Welcoming myself back from hiatus”

  1. Jimmy Jazz Says:

    Welcome back, Gerald. Glad you got some time away from the “office,” such as it were.

    I appreciated this passage from your post very much:

    The implications for crisis management is clear–when it hits the fan, you are already in a deep hole, I mean a deep hole.

    Put another way, plan for the worst.

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