Show me the evidence

The most interesting line in a certain famous golfer's appearance 10 days ago was when he noted that his wife told him that his "real apology to her will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behavior over time."

The most interesting line in a certain famous golfer's appearance 10 days ago was when he noted that his wife told him that his "real apology to her will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behavior over time."

In our very transparent world, all that matters is action, policy, and behavior. A brand is what a brand does, not what it says. I felt this ring true while watching the Olympics over the past week. Some athletes came into the games with a lot of hype, but all that really mattered was how they behaved at the games and whether they could deliver a medal-winning performance.

So if reputation is now right where it should be -- reality based -- what is our communications-centric profession doing about it? Is the programming for our brands, products, services, and companies still primarily an exercise in carefully crafting messages and creatively driving visibility? Do we expend an equal amount of energy and focus on action? Hopefully most of us do. But here's a higher bar: do we ask if the company or client organization can actually deliver what we're being asked to amplify? When was the last time that you saw an outline of a recommendation that went like this: situation analysis, objectives, due diligence to check facts, strategies, tactics, measurement?

I'm surprised there are still companies that separate responsibility for the creative communication of the brand message from responsibility for the delivery of the brand experience. That's still left to operations, customer service, the call center, and front-line employees.

I believe those of us in PR should be advocates of a more progressive definition of brand marketing, in which the function is as interested in keeping the brand promise as it is in making the promise.

Rob Flaherty is senior partner and president at Ketchum

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