Reputation Management for Federal Agencies

By Dana Grinshpan

October 3, 2012

Abraham Linclon famously said, "Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing." When we're a part of an organization, we experience the real thing--the character of the organization. We often feel frustrated by the disconnect between our experience and the public's view of our organization's reputation.  

That shadow of reputation is a funny thing. It influences the value we associate with the work of others and, with one act, can be irreparably damaged. Remember when a woman charged that she found a finger in her Wendy’s fries? The public was outraged and blamed Wendy’s restaurants immediately. Even though it turned out the woman actually planted the finger there, people were quick to react negatively given all the bad press about fast food chains.

Reputation is so important, that even entire countries are hiring companies to manage their brand. Former Prime Minister of Belgium Guy Verhofstadt, hired a team of image-makers to rebuild his country’s reputation after a series of corruption accusations in the government. As a part of the new image, Belgium introduced a new logo with edgy colors that sports the internet suffix “be.” Prime Minister Tony Blair even launched a “Cool Britannia” campaign to give the impression that the United Kingdom is a central hub for all things media, design, and fashion.

If countries can build reputations around the attitudes and images they want to convey, so should agencies. But how is a reputation created?

According to international relations scholars, there are two ways that reputation is created: through the lens of past actions or through the current calculus of the situation. Essentially, reputation can be based on what you have done in the past or what is going on in the current environment that impacts what you are doing. I tend to see reputation being created by a combination of the two. Based on these theories, how can agencies manage their reputations after an image fall-out?

How does your agency address public fall-out?

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Notes from the Research Desk highlights the best practices, salient data and emergent perspectives uncovered by the Government Business Council’s (GBC) team. Each week, Research Manager Dana Grinshpan will share the discoveries most important to federal managers. 


By Dana Grinshpan

October 3, 2012

http://www.govexec.com/excellence/promising-practices/2012/10/reputation-management-federal-agencies/58542/