While every publicly listed company has robust risk management systems covering financial, technical and natural disasters, most only focus on their reputation when they are threatened with a crisis, a serious issue or a major event like M&A. Most companies worry about their reputation in cyberspace with Online Reputation Management (ORM) but only a small number have an active management process in place to enhance trust in their organisations across their stakeholders across all channels.

We believe the real problem for large companies, industry and business is not disruption, competing in a world of digital ecosystems or a lack of innovation, but the simple fact that many of the world’s largest players live and work in a parallel universe to the one inhabited by the rest of the community. There can be no trust. The real issue for any company is building and sustaining trust. Today no one trusts anyone anymore.

Nurses, doctors, pharmacists and school teachers are more than three times more trusted than priests and ministers, company directors and business executives. That’s why industries and business face growing government intervention. This follows public unhappiness expressed through the media and at a local electorate level.

The bottom line is that government regulation is an act of distrust. Politicians are simply responding to their research, to what’s in the media and to what is making the electorate angry. And the electorate is very angry. What Trump and other western leaders have shown is that politicians who are in touch with the majority of voters and who take them seriously and demonstrate they are listening, win.

Despite what some economists tell them about how good things are, citizens have had enough of not being heard, not being taken seriously, struggling to make ends meet, worrying about their jobs and their kids not getting a job and certainly not being able to afford a home. At the same time, they see all the examples of executive and political excess and hypocrisy. And they know there are viable alternative political parties, non-government organisations, class action lawyers, shareholder activists and investigative journalists that will listen and respond.


What are the 10 myths of trust, reputation and issues management?

  1. Don’t believe Benjamin Franklin when he said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it”:  there are a multitude of examples of companies and individuals who have done bad deeds and remain trusted. It’s what you do after the bad deed that counts.
  2. Trust and reputation are matters of perception. No. They reflect reality. As Jack Welch said, “Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.”
  3. Keeping your head down is a good strategy. Yes it is for Ostriches.
  4. You can beat activists / NGO’s / whistle-blowers.
  5. It was only one (or more) incidents:  we do a thousand / million / billion a day.
  6. Journalists always twist what you tell them so why talk to them?
  7. Never apologise:  the lawyers told us that.
  8. The answer is advertising.
  9. It’s all about spin / image.
  10. Tweeting equals trust. Most of the time it doesn’t.