It’s Friday, and I’m thinkin’ about reputation

mike.jpgFor a good while the pooh-bahs of public relations wanted to “re-brand” the field as “reputation management.” Remember that? Sometimes the folks in PR remind me of Michael Jackson — so uncomfortable with who they are that they’re compelled to remake themselves.

A waste of energy if you ask me. Look what it did for Michael!

Anyway, today I’m thinking about reputation MISmanagement, and three cases of it I witnessed this past week. All three involve people and organizations I once respected.

Senator John McCain

Always liked this guy. War hero and quintessential straight shooter, and not afraid to buck the party line. But that was before McCain decided to seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2008. To do that, he had to jettison his integrity and make mad, passionate love to the Religious Right. It hasn’t been pretty.

mccain1.jpgWe all heard about McCain’s speech at Liberty University and his embracing of the Falwellian Republic. But that’s only one of many McCain inconsistencies you’ll learn about in Robert Greenwald’s The Real McCain. If you had any thoughts of supporting this guy — and I did — please watch it. The message to every candidate should clear: Be consistent with your message and straight with the voters, or guys like Greenwald will expose your hypocrisy.

I learned of Greenwald’s video on Jeff Jarvis. If the story interests you, be sure to check his take on it. Yeah, it was six days ago, but I’ve been busy.

Case Two: NASCAR

A few years back, a former student dragged me to a NASCAR race at Charlotte. For a while I got hooked on this show that features squeaky clean good old boys who always thank God, their sponsors and their fans after every race. NASCAR may the best marketing case study in the sports/entertainment field — ever. At least until this week.

gordon.jpgThe cheating scandal in Daytona involved 6 drivers and some of the biggest names in the business. Drivers made the requisite apologies, and NASCAR officials doled out hefty fines. But last I checked, all the cheaters will be on the track in Daytona on Sunday. It calls into question NASCAR’s commitment to fair play, but my guess is they won’t lose one fan in the process. This base is seriously committed.

Case 3: Tim Hardawaytimmy.jpg

What can you say about retired NBA star Tim Hardaway aside from the fact that he hates gay people. I mean, it’s a free country, right? To get the full impact, you need to see the full statement Hardaway made on a radio show in Miami.

You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don’t like gay people and I don’t like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the world or in the United States.

I’m trying to imagine how quickly Kent State would revoke my tenure and throw me in the street for that kind of statement. And I’m trying to imagine anyone making a similar statement about, say, black people. Yeah, Hardaway’s entitled to his opinion. But so are all the folks who won’t be engaging his services for a very long time. Another reputation down the crapper.

Hey, maybe he can do a commercial for Snickers!

Update: So that last remark isn’t misunderstood, here’s my take on the Snickers TV spot, posted last week.

5 Responses to It’s Friday, and I’m thinkin’ about reputation

  1. What? You left out JetBlue?

    Thursday, JetBlue CEO David Neeleman repeatedly apologized for the airline’s recent wave of cancellations and delays. “I think the best thing we can do is say we’re sorry and give them their money back, and give them a free ticket and then kind of plead with them to come and fly again,” he told CNN.

    So, where and how did the whole RM school of thought originate? Always seemed like a PR splinter faction to me, though it was all the rage when I was at WeberShandwick. Heck, one of my clients swears by it and even works with Fombrun. Personally, I always thought PR covered the bases just fine. Your thoughts?

  2. Andy Curran says:

    I would put Grace Slick on my list.

    Here is a story that ran on the AP wire (this link to the Providence Journal’s version):

    http://www.projo.com/music/content/lb_slick_02-17-07_593UA0D.4c5c7c2.html

    Note that this poster child of the counter-culture movement won’t even autograph an old Airpane album, but will gladly sign one of her overpriced paintings for those suckers who cough up the dough.

    I would expect a self-absorbed athlete or movie star to act like this, but not the hippie chick who sang lead on “Volunteers of America” and “We Can Be Together.” In the latter, one of the refrains is “Up against the wall, motherf*%@#er.” The MF reference is a shot at the establishment.

    Grace, just go away! And collect your “White Rabbit” royalties, you MF!

  3. Andy Curran says:

    Upon further review, I noticed that the PJ article was highly abridged, so here is the link from the source of the article, the Washington Post, which mentions the fact that Grace won’t sign if you don’t pay. Plus, check out what she wanted to do to Richard Nixon. The PJ article doesn’t mention that, either.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/12/AR2007011202321.html

  4. Bill Sledzik says:

    I won’t argue that Grace’s behavior has hurt her rep, but this lady’s been a wacko for most of her career, so we rather expect the antics. When Grace moves in, there goes the neighborhood — even if it is Tiburon. Way too many white rabbits, you know.

  5. […] Check out what my professor Bill Sledzik has to say about two reputation based cases in his blog Toughsledding. […]

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