Reputation and PR

“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” – Abraham Lincoln

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) says PR is the ‘discipline which looks after reputation’. (

Shouldn’t PR be focusing on the tree rather than the shadow? The reason the industry has latched on to Reputation and clutched it to its bosom is to increase its own credibility with business and move itself higher up the corporate food chain.

The absurdity of positioning PR as the reputation discipline was illustrated by the industry organ, PR Week, a few years back when the credit crunch hit, banks were bailed out by governments, and their reputation with the public went into meltdown. PR Week ran an article featuring the PR savants at the major banks under the headline The Reputation Managers. Nice of them to name and shame the guilty, I thought. Of course, the PR men and women at banks and elsewhere are no more or less involved in reputation-making than any other employee.






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