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Corporate Reputation in the “Social Age”
When John Mackey,
CEO, posted more than 1,000times on a Yahoo message board under an alias, it was the othermembers o that board who called him out (and, ultimately, TheWall Street Journal who reported it). You cannot hide much in thenew “power o crowds and technology” universe. A lot is possible with new technology. Virgil Grifths developed
to reveal exactly who was making edits in the vastcocreated universe o the world’s largest encyclopedia – Wikipedia.In the process, he outed many corporations like
.Employees there went into the Wikipedia entries related to the drug,Seroquel, and edited out negative statements. All o this was revealedrom ollowing the trail o IP addresses on computer networks.The dynamic o blogs – posts, comments, links – rewards thecontroversial. And plenty o bloggers are on the lookout orcorporate hypocrisy and ready to call it out. One o the by-productso the ever-expanding database that is the Web is our ability tofnd and compare any inormation. When
licensed theirRatatouille character to a vintner and put the image on the labelo wine bottles, the blog,
, called them out. She alsocalled out
or the Axe/Dove paradox and response.When
launched their environmentally made-over gas stationconcept, Helios House, in Los Angeles, they knew they would allunder green blogger scrutiny. While their ad campaign made asignifcant, positive impression on the general public, green punditsonline and oine remained on the ence regarding the substanceto their claims. To ensure the ull story behind Helios House madeit through, they identifed online inuencers and reached outahead o time to invite them to preview the site and get multimediainormation about the real nature o the makeover. It worked. Greenbloggers warmed to the concept and eatured stories praising BPnot accusing it o greenwashing.
Implications or Corporate Reputation Management
• Never assume you can hide inormation – someone or somethingwill likely fnd it.• Consumers demand openness rom the companies they buy rom,so be open. Openness means being straightorward and clear.• Be ready to reconcile contradictory business practices. Thoseconicts will no longer sit in the shadows o an annual review.• Don’t try insincere CSR. You will be called out online.