Interesting to read all the positive comments on my Blog of late and it has reminded me to write about an event I attended at my bank Coutts last week on the subject of 'Risk and Reputation Management'. Essentially about how reputations take years to build and minutes to destroy (tell me about it!) - and the kind of things you can do to avoid a reputation 'meltdown'.
Recent high profile examples have of course included Bernard Matthews (whose 'friendly Uncle' image was shattered when we saw what was going on being the facade of his Norfolk stately home), Northern Rock (whose brand was destroyed in a matter of days when consumer panic set in that their money was unsafe), as well as the classic example of Gerald Ratner (who announced his jewellery was 'crap' and lost his company Ratners as a result).
The discussion was mainly based on mass media and I know from personal experience that once the Press have decided they have it in for you it is very difficult to attract any positive coverage (just look at what they are still doing to Heather Mills if you need an example).
But one of the points I made during the evening was how powerful the online communication channel has been in trying to change the perceptions the mass media have created about me.
It was Steve Clayton at Microsoft who suggested I create a Blog and start getting active in online community forums to put forward my point of view - which actually goes a lot against traditional PR advice, which is to stay silent and adopt a 'no comment' status.
Since I created this Blog in June I've tried to post at least once a week, and I've also got Google Alerts going on a number of key business topics which lead me to post comments on other people's sites where I have a strong view.
And I've found it hugely effective in trying to turn the tide of opinion which back in 2005 (when my company Red Letter Days very publicly crashed) was incredibly negative - proven when I search Technorati for comments about me.
By the same token it has been an incredibly powerful tool to promote some of the projects I am now working on as well as traffic to my own website. In fact I would go as far as to say it is far easier and MORE powerful way for a business to promote its brand and its products than trying to get mainsteam media coverage.
Yet most of the media and business 'heavyweights' at the evening still seemed totally oblivious to the power of the web.
I think they all have a wake up call coming.