I decided to write this knowing no one would read it because as I was trying to find another topic to write about I punched in ‘What is the history of reputation management’. I figured there would be these famous historians or anything … ok I am on page ten I am done with this research. What dominated SERP was of course the plethora of new companies revising their history buying old shelf corporations and talking about how they helped invent this industry. I did find it funny that only one company had a great infographic the History of Reputation Management that started with those scam sites on the internet. At least it served to highlight the history. 343 page views later after being published in 2013. Was Reputation Management invented post internet era? What is the History of Reputation Management? We had the infographic! Hey guys link to me!!!
And Wikipedia who knew nothing. I found one citation though in wikipedia’s Reputation Management page with four sentences one that pointed to the concept emerging from the study of public relations. That was it. We had the infographic! Hey guys link to me!!! And Wikipedia who knew nothing. I decided maybe I could actually get to know something no one else knows.
I decided maybe I could actually get to know something no one else is writing about – so 343 page views for second position behind wikipedia.
The concept of reputation management emerged in the study of the pubic relations industry in 1999. The first footprint in academia about reputation management traces its roots to a Professor Dr James G Hutton with the printing of his book “Reputation management: the new face of corporate public relations?”. Hutton, who summarizes himself by saying he is “Former director of financial and corporate communications for three major multinational corporations, including the U.S. operation of Hong Kong’s largest corporation. Now a professor and consultant in marketing and public relations.”
What is public relations? How did the history of reputation management start there?
As a general rule public relations primary function is to generate publicity. In 1999, the publicity they were working on had nothing to do with the internet, no facebook, social media, you know what no mention of those free chat rooms on the internet. Everything related to what they call traditional media and media relations. (Print, newspapers, etc). The primary objectives in PR is to use the media to reach the target market most likely in your product, when endorsed by a supposedly objective third party, the message will become more powerful. It is a reference from a non biased resource who gives a thumbs up from an expert. It is a lot like why business reviews online mean a lot for a business. The history of reputation management had turned a new corner, now a chance that reputation could provide value.
It is within this context that Dr. Hutton wrote his first book as an associate professor of marketing and communication at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU). In it he states the idea of reputation management was a trend ‘gaining ground’ as fortune 500 companies were struggling to understand the role reputation played within peoples spending habits. Little work had been done looking at reputation and the way it correlates to increased spending.
It is important to point out that there are professionals who do not consider ‘reputation management’ possible, they maintain that anything that is dependent solely on a groups perception can not be calculated and therefore can not be managed. There are also other experts who believe that reputation can be repaired, built, and maintained, as long as one is aware the current trends and respond in positive and ethical fashion.
The history of reputation management and its role in public relations took a monumental turn when he published in 2001, ‘Reputation management: the new face of corporate public relations?’ In it the professor does an empirical study of the Fortune 500 companies drawing direct correlations between reputation and certain categories of spending. Understanding the role public relations plays today is a complex one requiring knowledge of the interaction between companies, organizations, news sources and of course, the consumer. Most notably looking at the best ways to communicate and the desired impact which is increased spending.
Public Relations Professors spent their lives dedicated to looking at a number of critical categories when determining the value of a Publicity campaign. First, how to find the most amount of people that are most likely going to be interested in your product for the least amount of cost. Second, how to generate loyalty and long term clients, clients who then carry your message to others giving recommendations. Third, why do third party endorsements demonstrate authority, neutrality and influence.