Corporate reputation: Reputational mythraking

Dick Martin (Dick Martin was Executive Vice President of public relations, employee communications and brand management for AT&T from 1997‐2002, capping a 32‐year career with the company. The American Management Association will publish his book – Tough Calls – AT&T and Lessons Learned in the Telecom Wars – in November 2004. He has also written articles for the Harvard Business Review, The PRSA Strategist, and The PR Encyclopedia. A previous book, The Executive’s Guide to Handling a Press Interview, was published by Pilot Books in 1993.)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Publication date: 1 December 2004


Through good time and bad, few companies have been so prominently and constantly in the public eye as AT&T. As the company’s executive vice president of public relations, Dick Martin was not simply a fly on the wall in the company’s most senior counsels, but a full participant in their deliberations. He draws from his experience to debunk some of the popular wisdom surrounding “big‐time public relations.” Foremost among these myths is the broadly held notion that “perception is reality” followed closely by the advice that “a strong offense is the best defense.” On the contrary, Martin uses examples from AT&T’s recent history to demonstrate that companies are better served by addressing the reality underlying their perceptual problems. Further, he shows how responding to attacks in kind can give criticism greater traction and invite greater scrutiny. Martin dispels popular misconceptions regarding the practice of public relations, arguing it is not word‐smithing, glad‐handing or do‐gooding. It’s not pitching or spinning. It’s a function of general management and, in turbulent times, it’s an especially critical component of the strategic choices CEOs and boards must make.



Martin, D. (2004), "Corporate reputation: Reputational mythraking", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 25 No. 6, pp. 39-44.

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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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