I’ve just read an article by Alastair Campbell in the Corporate Reputation supplement to today’s PR Week.

Put aside the nine fairly sensible ‘rules’ he lists for effective reputation management.  What’s much more intriguing is that, according to Campbell, the rise of social media and explosion of the blogosphere mean it’s no longer feasible ‘to control what is said about you.’

The implication is astounding that, before the burgeoning of digital platforms, he felt it was possible to control what was said. Especially as there’s little evidence that he managed to pull this off himself.

‘Control’ is such a strong and loaded term. I know of no organisation that could ever have laid claim to wield such a thing and nor should they ever try.

Of course, it always used to be possible to influence what was said about you.

And—guess what: it still is. If your reputation is important to you (as it surely should be) then striving positively to influence it should still be at the top of your to do list. But influence and control are completely different animals.

The rise of digital channels means we need to take the challenge of influence even more seriously and be even quicker off the mark.

But the fundamentals haven’t changed. The recipe for influencing what people say about you (and, more fundamentally, what Campbell overlooks: what they think and feel about you), remains:

  • Doing or making things of value
  • Behaving well
  • A crystal clear idea of what you’re about
  • Communicating this idea with flair, conviction, energy and integrity
  • Nurturing strong, long-term relationships and
  • Responding well to flack, hitches and crises as they arise.

As ever, this is all easy to say and harder to do.

But get it right and you’ll influence your reputation and customer perceptions for the better – in the digital age just as at any other time.


Do you disagree? Was it ever possible to control reputations? Do digital communications mean a fundamentally differently approach is needed?

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