Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Annual Rankings for Most Trusted Companies for Privacy

By Jarvis Cromwell

Privacy, identify theft and data breaches remain trust flash points for organizations. The latest ranking for most-trusted companies for privacy in 2008 from the Ponemon Institute and
TRUSTe finds American Express eBay and IBM are the top three most trusted companies.

As the chart below indicates, Google is no longer ranked among the top 20 most trusted companies for privacy, while Apple, Facebook, and Yahoo make the list for the first time.

One of the most important findings from the survey for would-be corporate trustmeisters is the gap developing between the importance privacy holds with consumers and the lack of control they feel over their personal information.

  • Seventy-three percent of consumers say the protection of their personal privacy is “important” or “very important,” up from 69 percent in 2006.
  • Only 45% feel they have control over their personal information, down from 56% percent in 2006.

Greater transparency is available to consumers on this issue from organizations like Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, which posts an online chronological database of data breaches that would scare anybody based on the depth and breadth of the list.

Despite the current financial climate, Amex retained the top spot in this year’s list, and Nationwide and Charles Schwab all managed to retain their top 10 rankings as well.

The study asked 6,486 adult-aged US consumers which companies they thought were most trustworthy and which did the best job safeguarding personal information. A total of 706 companies were named by consumers and 211 made the final list of most trusted companies.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Kids Restaurant Chain Risks It All (Stephanie Fierman)

Wow, Chuck E. Cheese has a problem.

The Wall Street Journal ran a half-page story in Section A yesterday that would cause any parent to run for the hills. While CEC describes itself as a place "where a kid can be a kid" and the cover of its 2007 Annual Report boasts "The Evolution of Fun," it appears that the actual stores have become a magnet for bad behavior and danger. Police all over the U.S. have been dealing with fights, guests carrying weapons and boozed-up brawls.chuck-e-cheese-stephanie-fierman.jpg

When a public official
describes his local Chuck E. Cheese as "something out of a Quentin Tarantino film," you know you have a serious problem. The picture at right shows the CEC in said politician's Milwaukee neighborhood - with an armed guard out front.

A simple glance at Google tells the Web 2.0 tale. Of 9 front-page search results for "Chuck E. Cheese," 5 are negative. Of 10 front-page results for "McDonalds," 0 are negative.

So where is the crisis management plan and what is the company doing about this problem? While the company's head of marketing describes the fights and problems as "atypical," the risk to a corporation is not always volume-based. Only one child or parent needs to die in one of these melees for CEC to get sued into the ether.

Not only is (a) taking aggressive action and then (b) broadly communicating your plan the "right thing to do," it ultimately protects the bottom line and shareholder value. Take the saddest, most base scenario: if the company gets sued over a child's death, it will be in far better stead with the courts - and the public - if it can show an active, consistent and good-faith effort to address this problem. Such an effort could very well include suffering a short-term revenue hit by closing the most troubled locations in the near 500-location chain. And continuing to serve alcohol in most stores is a recipe for disaster. What percentage of revenue coming from alcohol sales -
at children's birthday parties - is worth a legal debacle that effectively cripples the company?

I frequently refer to the
Tylenol poisonings in 1982 and J&J's decision to pull all U.S. product off the shelves even after it was determined that the company had no involvement in the tragedy. This may well be the best example in memory of a company taking the long view.

There is a range of choices CEC can take. At the lower end of the range, management needs to take action in its own backyard to resolve these issues. At the higher end, welcome Alderman Zielinski in as a valued advisor. Hold a press conference with him in Milwaukee where he ceremoniously padlocks his neighborhood location while you rightfully announce that no amount of money is worth putting people's lives in danger. Ask Zielinski to help you create a national "Having Fun Can Be Safe" campaign nationwide.

Wherever CEC lands on this spectrum, it had better act quickly. This is a case where a short-term view could be literally deadly for everyone involved.

A version of this post also appears at www.stephaniefierman.com.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Forrester Groundswell Team Reports Low Trust in Company Blogs

By Jarvis Cromwell for The Reputation Garage

Forrester has just released a report on people's trust in company blogs.  The upshot?  Very few place a high degree of trust in corporate blogs as an information source.  Check it out HERE.

The report, authored by Josh Bernoff, who co-authored the book Groundswell, highlights a survey conducted in Q2 2008 that asked consumers how much trust they had in various information sources.  As you can see from the chart below, high trust goes to folks we know. The lowest trust ranking is assigned to company blogs -- with only 16% saying they have a high degree of trust in them.

Forrester and the Groundswell team are bringing fresh insight from the front lines of the social media world to a very important issue.  We've noted here in the Garage that trust in big companies (not just their blogs) reached its lowest ebb in a century in 2002 and hasn’t recovered.  Dozens upon dozens of research reports and studies confirm this from every conceivable angle.  That’s a big problem for business because trust is transactional – meaning that when there is a lot of trust it accelerates a transaction; and when there distrust it acts a clotting agent.  This dynamic applies to any transactions that involve human interaction -- whether a blog post, a sale, a conversation, an employee review, etc

David Ogilvy’s oft-quoted line from long ago “the customer is not an idiot, the customer is your wife” holds true here.  Most people don’t believe that big companies are in it for them.  The Groundswell team's proscriptive advice to make corporate blogs places where companies truly listen, converse, and help their customers is dead on.   As is their advice that companies stop and think before joining the “groundswell.”  

These are practices worthy of any true trustmeister!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Low Trust Word of the Year Courtesy of Merriam-Webster

By Jarvis Cromwell for The Reputation Garage

A majority of the most-looked up words in the online Merriam-Webster dictionary once again reflect the current historically low public trust environment.   In this year’s top ten the standout candidate for low-trust word of the year is “vet”, which comes in at #2.

Webster’s top ten list for 2008, based on total number of searches of their online dictionary, is as follows:

  1. Bailout
  2. Vet
  3. Socialist
  4. Maverick
  5. Bipartisan
  6. Trepidation
  7. Precipice
  8. Rogue
  9. Misogyny
  10. Turmoil

We doubt many people will have to look up the meaning of "bailout" in 2009.

The dictionary's list has been mirroring the low-trust environment for several years.  The #1 word for 2006, “truthiness,” was popularized that year by Stephen Colbert, who defined it as “truth that comes from the gut, not books.” Webster gives truthiness an alternative meaning as “the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than facts known to be true”.

We suspect many of us will be looking for a little more “truthiness” in 2009.

Friday, December 05, 2008

10 Low-Cost Ways to Improve Employee Engagement in the Downturn

By Jarvis Cromwell for The Reputation Garage


High employee engagement is money in the bank.  As the graph opposite shows, companies considered the best to work for between 1998-2004 had a total stock market return of 176% versus 39% for the S&P 500.

But when it comes to engaging employees in this economic downturn, chances are you've got at least three problems. 1) Morale is at a low ebb (surveys have been tracking its decline across most large companies for a decade); 2) high levels of distrust in management limit your ability to rally the troops; and 3) even if you could figure out what to do, the current downturn leaves you with little or no money to address it.

Don’t sit around moping.  You’re a manager, so act. There are a number of things you can do that don’t have to break the bank to build trust and improve morale.  After all, you can't take the next hill (which is looking to be steep and well fortified) if you don't have the trust of your team.  The trick is to be consistent in your approach.  Here are ten tips from Forbes that would be a good start.

1) Give thanks

2) Pull them aside for a one-on-one

3) Value family time

4) Invest in their future

5) Surprise them

6) Engage them by handing out pet projects

7) Reward specific achievements

8) Get everyone involved and limit micro-management

9) Heavy up on encouraging a team approach

10) Focus more on fun and less relentlessly on cash

The learning for trustmeisters is that low levels of trust among employees hurts performance. Given the current environment, you'll need to work harder over the next year on this dimension of your job as a manager.  See the complete Forbes slide show of all ten tips HERE.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Diamond is a Cad’s Best Friend

By Jarvis Cromwell for The Reputation Garage

“Eternally basic is how people live.”

This holiday season, marketers aspiring to be trustmeisters should think about the quote above from the late, great Ted Bernstein of The New York Times.  His point was that any scrap of information, every communication, ultimately connects back to people and their lives.

At the end of the day, it’s all about us -- NOT the product, market, basketball score, database, or holiday gift.  Marketers call this an emotional connection, but somehow many have forgotten what that means.

Which brings us, strangely enough, to the next quote.

"Stay out of the doghouse this holiday season."

Always good advise, and in severe circumstances what is often required is, well, diamonds.  

Luxury goods aren’t easy to sell right now. The ways in which people are thinking about leading their lives in the current setting doesn’t make one bullish on diamond sales.

And it’s more than just consumer retrenchment.  As noted in my 11/30 dispatch, Faith Popcorn sees a movement of anti-over-consumerism taking hold among consumers – a “we can't afford it, so we might as well hate it” sentiment. Unfortunately, this is perfectly in sync with the low trust levels of our times.

Below is an approach that we think adeptly disarms the anti-over-consumerism backlash -- a funny viral campaign from the jewelry shop at J.C. Penny titled "Beware of the Doghouse." At 4 minutes it’s bit long, but totally worth the watch.  It follows the foibles of, excuse the language, a dual-bag and uses humor to make a trust point:  you live and die by your actions.  Other positives in our view:

-- The message deeply relates to the audience (or at least to a few of us guys here in the Garage)

-- Great leverage of Facebook

-- Viral power (it starts a fun conversation)

-- Feels authentic

Fellow trustmeister Paul Dunay said it initiated that “damn I wish I thought of that feeling when I saw it.”

The true test of something viral is whether the recipient will “buzz it forward” to more than one person.  If N > 1 it will go viral. If N = 1 or is <>

This campaign has N>1 written all over it. We hope it makes JC Penny some money this season.

Watch “Beware of the Doghouse” HERE.  Enjoy.

Copyright 2008 by The Reputation Garage

Monday, December 01, 2008

Should You Capitalize on the Visibility Premium? (Britton Manasco)

Are you personally seeking higher visibility in your field or profession?
 
If you answered yes, you’re not alone. More and more of us are aiming to be widely recognized.  But this growing trend presents issues for employees and companies to consider.
 
It used to be that the desire for high visibility was largely confined to stars in the worlds of movies, sports and politics. But in our web-enabled world, those tools have been democratized, and the high visibility trade is now widely practiced. Capitalizing on the advice of folks like Tom Peters, individuals in business and the professions now build “the brand called you.”   
 
In their book
High Visibility: Transforming Your Personal and Professional Brand, Philip Kotler, Irving Rein, Michael Hamlin and Martin Stoller argue that high visibility marketing and communication has become a sophisticated industry that reaches deep into the economy. The book, which was originally written in 1997 and was re-released (and re-written) in 2006, provides a framework for understanding the drivers and enablers of visibility. The authors contend that “attaining visibility has become a highly sophisticated process” and “all kinds of people today are seeking ways to become brands.”
 
So why are more people seeking high visibility?
 
One reason is that higher visibility often translates into more
money.  Those who are better recognized command higher fees and salaries and other perks.
 
Another reason is
attention. Those who are well branded in the marketplace attract more prospects (or prospective employers).
 
A third is
trust.  One won’t be widely viewed as a provider of trustworthy guidance unless one has already been elevated to a certain level of public recognition and esteem.
 
Finally, there is
status. Tom Wolfe argues that economic expansion after World War II fostered the emergence of new “status spheres,” and encouraged status competition.
 
For all these reasons organizations are attracted to high visibility individuals. Corporations have paid enormous sums to attract recognized CEOs with impressive track records. Universities seek respected names as their leaders. Newly elected presidents want a certain amount of star power in their cabinets.

But there are downsides. As with Hollywood stars, high visibility can make a career, or break it.  It can lift an enterprise or hamstring it. Companies that have sought “rock star” CEOs have often ended up disappointed with the results. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, points to HP’s transitional struggle with Carla Fiorina and wonders how well Apple will perform over the longer term without Steve Jobs or Oracle without Larry Ellison or Cisco without John Chambers.
 
“We learned in our research that the most effective leaders never make themselves the center of attention,” wrote Collins in a
Wall Street Journal editorial in 2001. “They are understated yet determined, quiet yet forceful. Most lack the liability of charisma. Indeed, the very best ones overwhelmed us not with their ego, but with their humility. They’re ambitious, to be sure, but ambitious first and foremost for their institutions, not for themselves.”
 
So in this new world where more rank-and-file employees are seeking to increase their personal visibility, how do you balance what’s best for the individual as “visibility aspirant” with what’s best for the enterprise as thought leader and brand? This is an increasingly important question to in today’s highly contested, trust-starved and turbulent markets.  
 
Let me argue that as organizations seek to turn more employees into “thought leaders” in order to boost their reputation and build brand trust; they need to articulate a specific and strategically well thought out set of rules for the road. Also companies should not invest all of their visibility producing resources into just one or a few individuals. Things change. People move on. Risks may outweigh benefits when you invest all your visibility capital into one basket.
 
It’s better to cultivate multiple thought leaders within an organization and raise their visibility collectively. It’s also important to raise the visibility of the organization itself as a source of trustworthy and authoritative guidance.
 
For individuals, the visibility premium has powerful allure and can be lucrative. But will you take the necessary steps to earn this premium and build trust with your audiences? Or will your fans end up wishing upon a falling star?  

I'll discuss steps for ensuring trust as you build your visibility in my next dispatch.

Britton Manasco is a contributing "trustmeister" to the Reputation Garage and founder of Manasco Marketing Partners, a firm that specialized in thought leadership strategy and execution.  He also produces the blog, Illuminating the Future: How Thought Leaders Become Market Leaders.

Copyright 2008 by the Reputation Garage

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Not a “December to Remember” for Toyota (Jarvis Cromwell)

We admire many things about Toyota here in the Reputation Garage. The current Lexus “December to Remember” advertising campaign is not among them.

One spot – watch it below – is trying to be clever.  But it’s so far off the mark for the tenor of the times that it comes off as tasteless and insensitive.  It should be pulled.

In it a woman, pictured as her childhood self, gleefully remembers the Christmas where she got a real pony, and how jealous the little girl next door was. Savoring this moment of childhood triumph, she goes on to say that nothing could be more…perfect (cut to the woman now grown admiring her new Lexus complete with bow in driveway.

 

The December to Remember campaign is its ninth year and Lexus noted in 2007 that it “is as anticipated as the traditional Clydesdales or polar bear campaigns.”

That was then.  Here are a few comments we found on Twitter and other communities across the net in about 60 seconds: 

“This commercial has gotten me truly angry…

"Saw loathsome Lexus 'December to Remember' spot of the season. What does it take to kill them?”

“Re: Lexus 'December to Remember' spot. How to kill them? Garlic-encrusted stakes have failed. Maybe this economy will do it.”

“Toyota ought to be chastised for these commercials.”

 “I would love to give a new Christmas owner of  a "December to Remember" car a shot to the nose.”

Trendwatcher Faith Popcorn sees a movement of anti-over-consumerism taking hold among consumers. "It's a convenient time for this. We can't afford it, so we might as well hate it.”

Indeed, we found no positive comments about Toyota’s campaign in our brief web search.  Maybe there is something good to be said about this spot.  We just couldn't find it.

Our advise for Toyota whose sales fell more than 25% last month: Take heed of Paul Allen’s recent advise in his post on the performance economy HERE.  This is not an environment for mistakes. Now more than ever you must make the consumer feel smart, protected, safe, heard, and connected.  Your customers may buy from you.  Do they feel good about it?  

And recall Paul’s worst-case scenario… what if your customers just don’t like you?  We can’t imagine that any incremental sales from this commercial could possibly be worth it in the long run.  You can do better than this, Toyota.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Trust and the Performance Economy Part 2 (Paul Allen)

You Must Deeply Relate to Your Markets in Today’s Performance Economy, or You're Operating Blind.
No markets….no moolah. 
No trust… no markets.

Ed Note:  You can find Part 1 of the series HERE

Well-defined and trust-breeding markets matter more than ever today. Every marketer and organization must meet very specific requirements to succeed. But perhaps more importantly, every marketer and organization serves very specific people.

I remind myself regularly that markets are just lots of people who often want the same thing. And there is a lot of evidence that these people, who are your markets, are asking categorically for two specific things from you:

“Do me some good (Investment Protection)  
If I spend money with you, is it going to be a good investment, a good value?” Customers will not give you money in today’s increasingly hyper-transparent marketplace if they believe you're not delivering the best option in a sea of alternatives.  And as word-of-mouth research is discovering, your customers talk to peers about you online, offline, in every context imaginable.  The operative word for marketers here is “deliver."  We live in a “show me marketplace” (a term coined by the Trustmeisters here in the Reputation Garage.) In such a marketplace, you need to deal with the “do me some good” issue proactively and in advance.

“Don’t do me harm (Reputation Protection)
The vast majority of people, unfortunately for our economy, don’t believe big companies are ‘in it for them.”  The same has been true for government, the media, and others.  Sorry to say it, but even your own customers are unlikely to trust that you have good intentions and their self-interest at heart.  As a result, the question your customers are asking harder than ever is “if I associate with you, vote with my wallet, will it make me better off... or are there hidden downsides?  What if your products and services don’t last, prove unreliable, embarrass or harm me somehow?  Perhaps worse, what if I just don't like you?"

In an economy and purchase-decision environment stressed at the core, people gravitate towards like-minded organizations, who show good intentions and who help their positive self- image by validating and enhancing their point-of-view.  If you end up with a reputation for doing harm, watch out! This is not an environment for mistakes. Now more than ever, products and services can't win by merely delivering features and functions, they must make the consumer feel smart, protected, safe, heard, and connected.  Your customers may buy from you.  Do they feel good about it?  And what do they say about the experience to their friends, online or otherwise?

A useful way to think about the issues  above is to view investment protection and reputation protection as a parallel universe to value creation and trust creation, which I discussed in Part 1 of this series.  One is defense, the other offense.  In volatile markets, it is a strategic imperative to decide when one is on offense, and when one is on defense.  Downturns often mandate defensive strategies. But some luckier brands could find themselves in the right place at a bad time. 

Trust Creation versus Reputation Protection is in our view a fundamental brand strategy filter to help find the right market development strategies that have mass and direction. We believe that they need to be a key part of every organization's roadmap for identifying and executing on the ideas and offerings that you hope will be embraced by your markets (the people who will give you money).  It is a management-level exercise that will require taking a longer-term view of your brand, assembling and managing the right talent to build trust and focusing on direction and flawless execution.

It is only fair to note that the current Performance Economy (and like all before it) comes with its own special features - like a media-fueled depression-era mentality, the nationalization of the financial industry globally, and a lot of speculation as to exactly what economy we’re in now.

But you already know the answer to that. And can start thinking about:

1.     When should your strategy emphasize offense (value creation/trust creation) vs defense (investment protection/reputation protection)?

2.     Do you deliver both investment and trust protection to your customers?

3.     Are you fully leveraging the cultural, behavioral, societal, and philanthropic assets of your organization?

4.     Is there an institutional understanding that trust creation accelerates value creation?

Some food for thought if you’re thinking at all about this Performance Economy and how it might be navigated, or even conquered.

Paul S. Allen is the chairman of independent advertising agency Allen & Gerritsen (www.a-g.com)  He is also a founding “trustmeister” of the blog The Reputation Garage.

Copyright 2008 by The Reputation Garage and Allen & Gerritsen

Monday, November 24, 2008

Trust and the Performance Economy Part 1 (Paul Allen)

Back in the year 2000 – shortly before 9/11, way before the invasion of Iraq, and way-way before the collapse of the global credit system - a serious debate raged. The central question was a profound one.

“Which economy are we in?”
Good question. What’s everyone think?

The year 2000 was the backside of the dot.com bubble, still bloated and ready to burst. Money flowed, valuations were generous, VC-backed investments were the rage, technology was everything, more people had more than they had ever had before. Which, I guess, meant people had lots of free time to think about exactly which economy they were enjoying so much.

Pundits said we were in the midst of the Internet economy, the technology economy, the Silicon-Valley economy, the dot.com economy, the wired economy – and the big kahuna of them all – the new economy. My personal favorite is the new economy - because it made so little sense, as if the all too human drivers of economic sustainability took a permanent vacation. Plus, the moment you anoint a new economy, it starts becoming an old economy. And as we are painfully learning today, sometimes an old economy can become barely an economy at all.

“So, again, what economy is this ?
My answer is the same as it was in 2000. This is the Performance Economy.

In August of 2000, I penned an editorial column titled “The Performance Economy.” The following excerpt (forgive me for quoting myself) sums up my view:

“I am no Alan Greenspan, but markets have always rewarded performance. So why not describe the economy by what it is and always has been, the Performance Economy. No matter what descriptors we give it, the standards of economic measurement will always concern itself more with fundamental performance than today’s investment fad.”

So how do we think about this from today’s vantage point? 

Clearly there are aspects to performance that remain the firmament of value creation – revenue, earnings, efficiency, quality, liquidity, capitalization, etc. These will always be a vital part of any Performance Economy. But there are components of performance that I would characterize as the firmament of trust creation – behaviors and characteristics that mitigate risk and enhance staying power during challenging (pronounced “recessionary”) economies. In times like these, trust creation might be just what the economist (pronounced “doctor”) ordered.

I am also pretty convinced that trust creation has an exponentially positive effect on value creation.

As organizations wrestle with the challenges of a volatile economy by rationalizing relative performance, there are other important performance opportunities that have the potential to help offset the downward pulls of market movements. Revenue, earnings, efficiency, quality, liquidity, capitalization will always be a highly managed part of any Performance Economy (value creation). Where many organizations fall short is in thinking about the opportunities, short and long-term, that come by focusing on managing trust creation.

Here’s a list, not in any order, of a few institutional characteristics that contribute greatly to trust creation: characteristics that help offset the unavoidable swings in value creation dictated by a volatile environment:

1. Genuine commitment to benefitting stakeholders in tangible ways
2. Qualified, accessible and accountable leadership
3. Executive decision-making that carefully weighs impacts on stakeholder interests
4. Transparent financial practices
5. Transparent, direct communications
6. Clear commitment to business ethics
7. Societal contribution for non-commercial purposes
8. Environmentally responsible operations
9. Consistency of promise relative to delivery
10. Authentic, high-touch customer engagements

Individually, or in the aggregate, the list above would enhance the real and perceived trustworthiness of any enterprise. And would help stave off customer, employee and margin erosion in times of uncertainty.

The question my fellow trustmeisters and I ask an organization is this: Do you really manage trust creation? Creating trust is an active enterprise. Either you manage it like other performance measures (such as quality) or you leave yourself open to being an also-ran in this important dimension with your stakeholders.

And that may be just the ticket for getting through some of the darker aspects of the current “performance economy.”

Paul S. Allen is the chairman of independent advertising agency Allen & Gerritsen (www.a-g.com)  He is also a founding “trustmeister” of the blog The Reputation Garage.

Copyright 2008 by The Reputation Garage and Allen & Gerritsen

Thursday, November 20, 2008

On The Small Matter of Optics (Stephanie Fierman)

"Optics," in Wall Street parlance, means how something looks or appears on its face (without a lot of detail).

It's ironic that the phrase originates in the investment community - because said community seems particularly blind to the topic and its power.

I submit to you the following:

1. AIG used taxpayer money on sales retreats, replete with spa treatments. After getting pilloried in the press for such profligacy, the firm went ahead and used more taxpayer money on deferred comp for the top 5% of its executives. Earth to AIG, come in AIG...

2. The CEOs of GM, Chrysler and Ford flew to Washington DC in private jets this week to plead for a bailout. The Washington Post labeled this a case of "stone-cold tone-deafness."

3. James Cayne, the former CEO of Bear Stearns, was busy playing bridge in Tennessee without a cell phone or Blackberry while the financial community struggled to save (or sell) his firm.

On the flip side - with good optics - is The Nielsen Company who recently cancelled its 2009 client meeting, citing economic concerns. Does it matter why Nielsen may have actually cancelled the event? Not for a minute.

The importance of optics can be a hard lesson for executives to learn. As a marketing executive, I have counseled many on discontinuing or deferring activities not just because said actions may be truly inappropriate, but also because of how they will be interpreted by stakeholders. And in times of heavy oversight the result of such activities is exponentially devastating.

Remaining in tune with the effect of optics on an organization's reputation and perceived integrity is the job of every leader.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Blogger forces NASA to Admit Global Warming Error and Other Trust Missteps (Jarvis Cromwell)

Today on the Trustwatch List:

It's reported that all three big auto CEOs took the fancy private jet to the government panel meeting where they planned to ask for a taxpayer bailout.

General Motors takes out a full page ad in The New York Times on why they deserve a bailout. It was all about them with nary a peep about their intentions for customers. Reputation myopia apparently remains epidemic in Detroit.

AARP investigates marketing practices of partners who were not truthful in how they sold health insurance plans. See HERE.

And finally there’s NASA. Last year NASA officials admitted that for the past seven years they had used the wrong temperature statistics to assess global warming trends. The mistake was spotted by a blogger, who forced NASA to declare the error.

Well, my friend Paul Walsh who is guru of all gurus on the weather’s impact on the global economy posted this morning that NASA has made another mistake along these lines – overestimating climate change numbers. See HERE.

And this may be shameless self-promotion, but the trustmeisters here at the Reputation Garage were happy to hear him note the following:

“The NASA PR engine should review the website (The Reputation Garage) of my friend, colleague and "trustmeister" Jarvis Cromwell. Reputation and trust capital is a key metric for a scientific agency like NASA -- making the case for an issue as critical as climate change (or going to the moon, mars, etc.) is only viable if the public can trust the information that they put out.”

Thanks Paul. Trust and reputation are not merely communications issues, they are performance issues and every one of these organizations needed more process in analyzing the downstream impacts of their actions on stakeholders.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Engaging Employees in an Economic Downturn (Jarvis Cromwell)

We've said before that "spin" is now part of the lexicon - and that changes how you communicate. In what is the lowest trust environment in a century, words are increasingly disbelieved.  Motivating workforces is not the sole job of an HR or PR department, but an exercise of transparency and engagement across the company.  And for a company with, say, 10,000 employees, there is no better (or worse) buzz than what gets served up by this crowd. The video tips from Vince Thompson below outline the idea pretty well.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Changing Media "Trustscape" Part 3 (Jarvis Cromwell)

For several years now public trust in the mainstream media has been declining, a trend reflected across dozens of polls. One poll from earlier this year, HERE, found just 19.6% say they believe all or most news media reporting.  This was down from 27.4% in 2003.

Courtesy of my friend Paul Walsh, here's a great YouTube piece that unmasks television journalism's desire to show sensational images.  Right before this aired, Katie Couric was promoting a segment criticizing a staged inteview with soldiers in Iraq. A few moments later the show went to correspondent Michelle Kosinski with this:

NBC Reporter Exposed as She Fakes Extent of Flooding on Today Show



Copyright 2008 by The Reputation Garage.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Media Trustscape Part 2 (Jarvis Cromwell)


When a McCain aide leaked that Sarah Palin didn't know that Africa was a continent, the media went on a manhunt to figure out the source of the leak.

And the answer finally came back that it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser. MSNBC, Fox, the Los Angeles Times and blogs and media outlets aplenty covered the news.

One problem. Martin Eisenstadt doesn't exist, as The New York Times noted today HERE. He is a complete hoax.

Score one for the NY Times and traditional trust-tactics of verifying sources and the facts. In this case dozens of publications and thousands of blogs were perfectly happy to pass along an entirely faked source to their readers.

Food for thought in the changing "media trustscape".

Copyright 2008 by the Reputation Garage