Executives of all stripes can benefit from this recent article on threats and opportunities involving reputations written by strategic communications counselor Karl Robe for On Balance magazine. Entitled ‘Is Reputation More Valuable Than Money,’ the article discusses the value of reputation to advancing an organization’s agenda.

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Topics covered include reputational impact on Leadership and Culture, Data Breaches, Social Media Attacks, and Trust Building. This article reflects some issues discussed by Karl Robe as part of a panel at the ‘CPAs in Industry Spring Conference.’

The greatest risk to most corporate and executive reputations, as well as agendas, is lack of preparation and attention to promoting and protecting how one is perceived by mission-critical audiences, Robe writes.

Prevention, preparation and active management are the least expensive means of maintaining reputations. This approach, however, runs counter to our run-to-failure society.

A crisis of reputation seems like a low-probability, high-impact event that can be set aside for more pressing issues. In fact, Robe writes, the likelihood of a crisis grows greater the more connected we become. The more connected, the easier it is to impact people, profits, operations and reputation. And, once issues become crises, you can count on lost revenue, lost productivity, lost talent—until trust is restored.

Reputation takes a lifetime to build and a nanosecond to destroy, Robe shares. Which, presumably, is why Warren Buffet is emphatic when he says, “Lose money for the firm, and I will be understanding. Lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless.”

Warren Buffet values reputation more than money. He’s often quoted as saying we can afford to lose money—even lots of money. But we can’t afford to lose reputation—even a shred of reputation.

Corporate boards and executives should be ruthless in protecting their reputations too, Robe writes in the article for the Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Karl Robe

Karl Robe is principal owner of Karl James & Company, a full-service marketing communications firm. His insights are based on more than 20 years of coaching and counseling executives at multinational corporations to nonprofits on stakeholder communications strategies.

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