Letter - Reputations must be built by design

The resignation of Lord Browne as BP group chief executive ('Brunswick called in to handle Browne crisis', 4 May) saw a seemingly impregnable reputation come crashing to the ground. While the sudden announcement left the markets in shock, PR professionals should think carefully about the implications.

We live in an age of celebrity, and business leaders are no exception. The top names can become living embodiments of their companies' brands. When up to 78 per cent of the market value of Fortune 500 companies is made up of intangible assets, what a leader says and does, and how it is portrayed in the media, has enduring value.

The costs of failure, too, are immense. Companies must invest intelligently in safeguarding their reputations. A sound reputation must be built by design, not default. It takes time and careful preparation.

Michael Hayman, chief executive, The Communication Group.

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