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Corporate reputation: Anything but superficial – the deep but fragile nature of corporate reputation

Ronald J. Alsop (Ronald J. Alsop, a news editor and senior writer at The Wall Street Journal, is the author of the new book, The 18 Immutable Laws of Corporate Reputation: Creating, Protecting, and Repairing Your Most Valuable Asset. He is also the editor of the annual Wall Street Journal Guide to the Top Business Schools and writes the MBA Track column on as well as articles about business education, corporate reputation, and marketing for the Journal. He has written several other books, including The Wall Street Journal on Marketing and The Wall Street Journal Almanac.)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Article publication date: 1 December 2004



Corporate reputation has never been more valuable – or more vulnerable. All of the corporate malfeasance of the past few years in the US not only showed how precious and fleeting reputation is, but it also demonstrated how one company’s misdeeds taint an entire industry. Some businesses with superb reputations have found themselves unfairly lumped with the pack of fraudulent companies, and some executives have been dismayed to learn that they are viewed as greedy and unprincipled. One of the most important rules of reputation management is the need for constant vigilance. Companies today are exposed to unprecedented scrutiny through the Internet and 24‐hour all‐news television channels. Business is truly global and information, especially gossip, travels fast. Many people mistakenly equate reputation with corporate social responsibility and ethical behavior. While certainly of growing importance, ethics and social responsibility are but two elements of the equation. Financial performance, the workplace, quality of products and services, corporate leadership, and vision also figure into reputation. There’s also that elusive emotional bond between a company and its stakeholders that is central to the most enduring reputations. If they ever hope to maximize the value of their reputations, companies must make reputation management a fundamental part of the corporate culture and value system. Companies must spread the message of reputation management throughout the organization and make employees cognizant of how each and every one of them affects reputation on a daily basis. Reputation must be central to the corporate identity, not merely clever image advertising and manipulative public‐relations ploys.



Alsop, R.J. (2004), "Corporate reputation: Anything but superficial – the deep but fragile nature of corporate reputation", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 25 No. 6, pp. 21-29.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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