Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Reputation is a reflection of wealth

PR people are obsessed with corporate reputation, the reputation of CEO's, brands, services and such like.

Of course, this is, again, the industry looking for measures that are symptoms and not cause.

As organisations develop wealth through the relations they create, the participants in this relationship building activity compare the explicit tokens espoused by the organisation with their own.

The signs and symbols, expressions and actions and representations of attitude, emotion, belief or cultural values are examined for cognitive consistency, and cognitive dissonance. Through this process they value the organisation's tokens by comparing them with their own perception. Where there is consistency, the reputation is positive and where there is dissonance, the reputation is in decline.

In resolving dissonance the public relations practitioner adds both value and enhances reputation.

This means that the practitioner's primary role is in resolving those issues that surround dissonance and thereby enhance the value of the organisation and, as a by-product, change its reputation.

The value of organisations change before their reputation does.

In attempting to measure reputations, some people use a all manner of algorithms and achieve the kind of results that one expects from measuring symptoms. They conclude that the symptoms exist. Wow!

This is an approach that might change one's view of blog management. Managing comment in blogs to enhance the value of an organisation as a defence against criticism is about managing dissonance to enhance corporate value and the by-product is an enhanced reputation. Such activities are implemented in a variety of ways among the different domains of public relations practice. Thus Jim Horton might refelct on the value of not the reputation of The New York Times but its loss of value.

Picture Cognitive Dissonance by Charles Neenan