On Wal-Mart and risk management; NYSE and "cease a
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

On Wal-Mart and risk management; NYSE and "cease a

Paul Holmes

  • I agree with pretty much everything risk management consulting Maurice Ewing has to say about “reverse engineering” risk in this HBR blog post, though I think he underappreciates how far his chosen example—Wal-Mart—has come over the past few years in terms of its overall approach to reputation management, and is flat out wrong when he says “most PR firms only offer cosmetic remedies to firefight reputation threats as they arise.” Still, his core argument—that “managers [might] benefit from ‘reverse-engineering’ the criticism of not only outsiders but of their own colleagues,” or learning from their critics—is a sound one.
  • Needless to say, the only results from this absurd New York Stock Exchange “cease and desist” letter is that (1) the exchange is made to look ridiculous and (2) the images that it seeks to restrict proliferate around the blogosphere. Somebody in the NYSE public relations department needs to tell somebody in the legal department to stop acting like an ass.
  • I’m not sure how much of a factor it was in the Facebook case, but I think Eric Starkman has some valid points to make about the difficulty of translating communications techniques from the political arena into the corporate realm. The big difference, it seems to me, is that politics is a zero-sum game: if you hurt your opponent you help yourself. In the business realm, however, it’s quite possible for both parties to lose. In that environment, drawing attention to Google’s privacy problems could quite easily translate into greater concern over privacy in general, and regulations that hurt both companies.
  • If the defense attorneys in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case are concerned about media coverage impeding their client’s ability to receive a fair trial, they should focus their attention on his friends and peers in France. Some of the comments from Bernard Henri-Levy and others have come dangerously close to asserting a “right to rape” based on Strauss-Kahn’s position and accomplishments and the prevailing culture in his native France. Those comments have done more than anything in the New York tabloids to convince me that the case against the former IMF chief are credible.
  • I’ve long argued that it’s essential to the long-term future of public relations to move PR education out of journalism schools and into business schools: PR people need a better understanding of business, and business executives need a better understanding of PR. While I don’t much care for the headline, I think the PRSA’s Anthony D’Angelo makes a strong case in this BusinessWeek post. “Were business schools to deliver [PR education], there would ultimately be more business leaders who could knowledgably weigh the values of legal protection and public trust and then decide more reliably on actions that produce lasting value.
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