COMMENT: EDITORIAL; Reputation needs to be defended

This week’s PR Week/NOP survey on the role of company chairmen reinforces a view held by most PR people. The public expects captains of industry to stand up and be counted on all aspects of their company’s performance - especially matters which affect its reputation.

This week’s PR Week/NOP survey on the role of company chairmen

reinforces a view held by most PR people. The public expects captains

of industry to stand up and be counted on all aspects of their company’s

performance - especially matters which affect its reputation.



Unfortunately, too many barely pay lip service to this idea. They see PR

as a downstream function - not a strategic business matter. One top five

consultancy chief privately admits to tackling this corporate myopia by

beginning pitches to senior management by saying ‘we are not here to

talk about public relations’.



Many senior managers may have arrived in their positions without ever

having to confront this issue before. Some may feel uncomfortable with

it - even more so since the public mauling of Cedric Brown. But that is

no excuse for passing the PR buck down the corporate ladder.



The PR disasters which have afflicted companies like British Gas late

might have been avoided if more senior managers recognised their direct

responsibility for PR. Ignoring it contributes to the misguided

impression that business decisions can be taken in isolation from the PR

consequences. That way disaster lies.



A chairman who refused to talk about the financial results because he

wasn’t very good with numbers would be laughed out of the boardroom and

the City. The responsibility for the company’s reputation is no less a

part of their job description. PR directors, corporate PR consultants

and non-executive directors should continually remind the top brass of

their responsibilities in this regard.



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