Predictable Surprises: Why reputation management is core to business leadership

By Tracy Schario, APR, chair of the PRSA MBA/Business School Program committee

Warren Buffett famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

Sage advice from a business luminary. However, many MBA programs don’t offer a strategic communications or reputation management course. PRSA and 15 universities are actively working to change that scenario.

Many communicators approach reputation management from a crisis communications point of view. Business operations teams often approach reputation from risk mitigation or risk avoidance. The synergy among these departments exists to develop an understanding of how communication strategy aligns with the larger strategy, vision, and values of an organization.

Reputation management is creating a “culture that promotes conflict avoidance versus fire-fighting,” explains Paul Argenti, author, professor of corporate communications at the Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth University, and founding faculty of the PRSA MBA/Business School Program. Argenti joined faculty teaching the program during a recent webinar (watch here).

Reputation management and crisis communications is as much about “intelligence operations” and scenario planning as it is about measurement, said Argenti. Companies serious about reputation management understand they need “data-driven insights rather than gut instincts.”

Argenti was joined by professor Tricia Horn, from University of Central Missouri, the newest member of the PRSA MBA/Business School program, who shared their approach to teaching reputation management, and Kathleen Donohue Rennie, PhD, APR, Fellow PRSA, an associate professor at New Jersey City University, who discussed PRSA’s research and evaluation of the program.

To request a copy of the webinar slides, please contact tracyschario@gmail.com.

About the Author

Tracy Schario, APR, is chair of the PRSA MBA/Business School Program committee. She leads media and content strategy at MITRE.