Category: RepuCom seminars

Reputation at Risk – Does it still matter?

Reputation at Risk – Does it still matter?

Yes it does, and latest international research backs this statement. Not only does it back the statement but the research also reveals a struggle to cope with, manage and mitigate this volatile risk.

For a long time, the debate has raged on. Is Reputation Risk a Strategic Risk or just a consequence of a risk?

Perhaps it is because of the misunderstanding that exist in management circles about it. Just because Reputation Risk is the domain of intangibles, does it make it so elusive that we leave it till it is too late, and then try and patch up the embarrassment with PR and fake apologies? Also, to treat it as a simple consequence is not adequate and indicative of the level of thinking that is needed to deal with it appropriately.

Often Reputation Risk incidents have been water shed moments for companies, necessitating whole sale changes to value systems and modus operandi.

In South Africa, there has been many reputation risk incidents that have damaged the names of individuals and organizations a like. We have had our share of naming and shaming, mamparas and Wikileaks moments.. From unauthorised usage of our airspace by the Gupta family to the huge Construction Industry fall-out and subsequent Competition Commission fines to court cases and huge expenditures on Nkandlagate. The list just goes on unabated, which certainly points to a lack of understanding to manage intangibles and perceptions, to manage reputation risk in the Southern African environment.

So, let’s evaluate some of the latest research findings in search of some answers and direction.

On the 15th July, an article appeared in the Risk Management Professional that was called “Is reputational risk management yesterday’s news”?. The article states that a new survey into the emerging professionalization of reputational risk management tells us quite the opposite. It then quotes the findings of a study from Schillings on reputation risk that brought together a group of key practitioners, including general counsel, communications directors, public affairs directors, group heads of risk and CEOs from over 150 leading public and private companies to try and move the debate forwards. After all, this is a shared concern, and as one general counsel at a FTSE100 company remarked: ’Reputation risk will always touch our business somewhere.’

On the 23rd July – ACE Research publishes the findings of their latest study ‘Reputation at Risk’, which was conducted across 15 countries within its EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region. This study found that “Reputation is the Hardest Risk to Manage. Their findings reveal that 92% of companies believe that reputational risk is the most challenging category of risk to manage.

This certainly ties in with a 2011 Deloitte report that found Reputation Risk to be a “meta-risk” – The Report stated that Reputation is an important factor across all four major risk areas of the Risk Intelligent Enterprise — strategic, operational, financial, and compliance — especially because it is a constantly evolving and fully embedded as part of the why and how a company achieves its objectives.

In May this year, The Compliance Week wrote and I quote: “After financial risk, reputation risk is the biggest concern that keeps board directors awake at night, according to the latest poll from EisnerAmper via Survey Says Boards Troubled by Reputation Risk.

Ace Research’s findings also revealed that while 81% of companies in the survey see reputation as their most significant asset, most of them admit that they struggle to protect it and identifies a number of key reasons why companies in the region often find reputational risk challenging to manage:

  • 77% of companies find it difficult to quantify the financial impact of reputational risk on their business, making it harder to measure than traditional, more tangible risks. This is understandable as it is a very volatile risk. Sometimes a small incident can have worldwide repercussions, sometimes it will have no effect. I wrote about this in my post – “One Event. Multiple Stakeholder Impacts”.

68% of companies believe information and advice about how to manage reputational risk is hard to find, compounding the sense of uncertainty and confusion about how best to manage it. This carries another element of truth. Without adequate stakeholder profiling and analysis, issues management and systemic thinking, incorrect mitigation might be the order of the day. No longer is PR the only preferred tool to manage Reputation Risk, what about Governance, Ethics and Compliance functions role and input?

  • 66% of companies feel inadequately covered for reputational risk from an insurance perspective. Again the problem exists because you can outsource many risks, but reputation is a risk that is integral to your businesses’ DNA and cannot be outsourced.

56% of companies say social media has greatly exacerbated the potential for reputational risk to affect their business. This is the new world we are living in and it implies more scanning, monitoring and training.

And another report, “With CSR In Global Demand, Corporate Reputation Is At Stake”, (by Cone Communications And Echo Research) stated that CSR is no longer a nice-to-do, corporate social responsibility is now a reputational imperative – or liability. The study revealed in the 2013 Cone Communications/Echo Global CSR Study, that companies are expected to be an active participant – if not a driving force – in solving the most pressing social and environmental issues. Corporations that disregard this consumer-demanded role risk more than their reputation – nine-in-10 global citizens say they would boycott if they learned of irresponsible behavior.  This report shows that CSR is now a direct driver of Corporate Reputation and major cause of Reputation Risk.

The Ace Research findings also proposes a number of solutions to adopt, including:

Companies need a clear framework for managing reputational risk. 

Effective management of ‘traditional risks’ will help avoid reputational events, and management teams need to put in place a culture and instil a risk appetite across the company that will reduce the potential for crises to emerge in the first place. In addition, taking a multi-disciplinary approach that involves the CEO, PR specialists and other business leaders will also help to build the broader perspective that is necessary for identifying and managing less obvious reputational risks.

My thoughts: I found this interesting as this was the approach that I recommended to Vodacom when I assisted them with embedding Reputation Risk in their Enterprise Wide Risk Management system prior to their listing.These recommendations certainly shows up the Construction Cartel and the need for PR/Reputation Managers to be involved earlier in the risk management & mitigation process. It also implies that the help of OD/Organizational Behavior experts is necessary.
Companies should work harder at measuring how their reputation is perceived. Understanding perceptions of key stakeholders, their interplay and their impact on corporate reputation, is essential for tracking and       managing reputational risk effectively. Companies must ensure that they are collecting an “outside-in” perspective to complement their own internal perspective.

Again I rest my case. I have been teaching this in my Stakeholder Reputation Management Master Classes since 2006.
Companies should sharpen up their crisis management plans to keep pace with today’s faster-moving world. Our research suggests that many companies may be over-confident in their abilities to respond to a crisis. Regular review and testing — including the incorporation of social media scenarios — will allow a faster response when disaster strikes.

Again I rest my case. I have been teaching and facilitating the need for Nano-Seconds Crisis Management Plans for a long time – even in China.

The insurance market can do more to help companies manage reputational risk. This includes the provision of more holistic solutions that include crisis response assistance. It also includes helping companies to take a   ‘reputational lens’ to more traditional risks to evaluate the reputational consequences in each case. In this respect I work closely with Business Continuity and Health & Safety specialists to advise my clients.

Andrew Kendrick, President, ACE European Group, goes on to say:

“Reputational risk can be difficult to predict. However, some clear pointers emerge from our research as to the source of companies’ key worries. One of these is the globalisation of business, with complex supply chains, expansion into new markets and the challenge of maintaining consistent standards across multiple borders all giving cause for concern. The other noticeable theme is regulation. Post-crisis, compliance has taken on a new importance and businesses of all shapes and sizes are more keenly aware of its relationship to their corporate reputation.

“Insurance is not a panacea for the fast-evolving world of reputational risk. Nevertheless, I believe there is much that insurers and brokers can do collectively to help their clients. This includes the evolution of new more holistic insurance solutions that involve the input of crisis and PR specialists. More generally, professional risk engineering can help to improve risk management processes and governance, allowing clients to manage the more ‘traditional risks’ better and reducing the likelihood of a reputational event in the first place.

The Schilling researchers asked respondents: ’How useful is your organisation’s formal risk management  process when it comes to protecting corporate reputation?’

The response was mixed. On the positive side many communications directors and general counsel rated the risk process as ‘useful’. Interestingly  legal respondents were significantly more likely to rate the process as ‘very useful’ compared with those from a communications background. Over 30 per cent of communications respondents to the survey felt that the risk management process was either ‘not useful’ or were unaware of such a process.

One risk manager we spoke to at a leading private company gave us an example of how things work when they are going well: ‘In terms of the communications team and reputation risk, it is dealt with in a high-level and strategic manner. The head of communications prepares incident scenarios. As a risk function we input to those scenarios. This helps to make sure that we have communications and incident response plans in place for our major reputational risks’” However, scenario planning is just one part of the picture.

I fully agree. Reputation Risk is inherent in everything we do. It can be positive or negative. But it needs a dedicated approach and robust thinking processes.

To assist leaders with their questions, struggles and issues I will facilitate a Protecting Corporate Reputation Master Class in Johannesburg from the 22 – 23rd August. This 2 – day training course will provide a deep dive into Reputation Risk and will equip delegates with the necessary competencies (knowledge, skills & attitudes) to protect and defend their organization’s most valuable asset – its reputation against potential threats, risk and potential damage, and is based on more than 25 years research and experience on how to protect business reputations.

The course weaves inputs from best practices in Reputation Management, Risk Management, Communication & PR, Crisis Management & Crisis Communication, Ethics & Corporate Responsibility to provide companies with tools and know-how to protect, defend and deal with reputation risk events of any kind, and should provide you with a strategic direction on how to manage reputation risk in your organization.

To find out more on how to register, click here.

What: Protecting Corporate Reputation Master Class
A 2 – day Deep Dive into Reputation Risk and How to Protect and Defend your Organisation and Brand against Attack, Potential Threats and Damage.
When: Thursday, August 22, 2013 8:30 AM to Friday, August 23, 2013 3:30 PM
Where: Apollo Conferencing Hotel

158 Bram Fischer Drive, Ferndale, Randburg
Johannesburg, Gauteng   South Africa

7 Compelling Reasons to Educate, Train and Develop your Employees About Reputation Management


Managing an organization’s reputation may be the most important asset a CEO and his or her team manages – as a good reputation helps a company to attract business, investors, hire and retain the best employees, partner with other leading organizations and lower the cost of capital.

Reputation must be built from the INSIDE OUT, and encompasses everything that the organization says and does. Reputation is an intangible asset at risk on a daily basis.

Recent studies show that it can make up as much as 63% of a company’s market value. According to Steve Hamilton-Clark, CEO of TNS MENA “Reputation capital is the sum of the value of all corporate intangible assets, which include business processes, patents, trademarks, reputations for ethics and integrity, quality, safety, sustainability, security, and resilience”.

He goes on to say that “Indeed, companies must understand and influence the relationships they have with stakeholders – from customers, investors, business partners, influencers, the general public and employees. The ability to attract, maintain and motivate talented employees, as well as customers rests in a good reputation.”

Psychologists tell us that awareness precedes behavior change whilst the term preparedness refers to the state of being prepared for specific unpredictable events or situations. Awareness and Preparedness are therefore closely linked.

The level of preparedness is depended on the cumulative deposit of knowledge or the sum total of the learned behaviour of a group of people. This awareness that the psychologists talk about is created by knowledge and knowledge is acquired through information. (Even this process is fraught with danger – remember the Desert Survival or NASA team building exercises that some of you have done on Leadership training).

Therefore awareness can play a huge role in protecting and nurturing your organisation’s biggest asset and risk. How would a manager know whether he or she is adding or subtracting to that value, unless he or she has been made aware?

The next time your organization meets to decide what the training goals and priorities should be, ask yourself: “What are we doing to ensure that our managers understand the creation and protection of our Reputation”?

A good reputation means your name is trusted. You are considered a sound investment, purchase, trusted partner, and employer. All of this dramatically impacts the organization’s bottom line.

So, here are 7 compelling reasons why you should educate, develop and train your staff in reputation management principles.

1. To ensure that your business is well-positioned especially when reputational surveys such as the World’s Most Admired Company and Annual Best Employer surveys are conducted. Those businesses that obtain better scores, also have better revenues and a more sustainable footprint.

2. To remain competitive. If your employees are knowledgeable and motivated, they will build your reputation in a very competitive marketplace, and stakeholders like to do business with winners.

3. To understand your stakeholders needs and concerns and find ways to wow and engage them. You need to maintain good relationships with them and gather their support and trust.

4. To enable your employees to stand back from the day-to-day operations and understand the strategic implications of their work on the company’s largest and most important asset, and yet, biggest risk.

5. It sends one of the most powerful messages to your employees – that they and the organization’s reputation are valued. When your employees are anxious about maintaining the reputation of the institution, it is more important than ever to demonstrate a commitment to them, by giving them the know-how and understanding to manage that asset and risk.

6. To avoid Reputation Risk. When employees understand the value and risk of reputation as an asset, they will think twice before destroying it.

7. Training increases productivity in the short term, as well as the long term. It enhances reputation.

Think back to your own experiences. What a pleasure to deal with employees that are dedicated , focused and competent. The sooner you engage your staff, the earlier you can address and deal with the issues that may affect your reputation.

Read this post Education & Training Programs Woefully Reputation Deficient for more provocative insight based on research.

Should Reputation Management Training not feature on your company’s Training agenda? Are you leaving the deliberate management of this asset to chance?

One Event, Multiple Stakeholder Impacts

Dice 2

Just a storm in a teacup! How often have I not heard CEO’s say this, only for the share price to be 20% down a day later!

Normally these are the visible signs, but a crisis poorly handled, have a wider impact than most managers anticipated. Look at the following model.

A single risk event is likely to have multiple impacts on a company‘s reputation. To understand this, imagine that XYZ Corporation has been fined by the Competition Commission for price fixing and allegedly engaging in unfair and predatory business practices.

News of the lawsuit is picked up by major media outlets, which run exposés on the company and how it has taken advantage of its customers.

The list below gives examples of how different stakeholders may react to this single lawsuit.

Current Customers – Possible Action: A number of customers believe they have been taken advantage of, and they refuse to do business with the company again. Other customers, who may not even be part of the lawsuit class, decide to cut back on their business or switch to new, aggressive competitors.

Potential customers – Decide not to do business with the company.

Suppliers and partners – Decide not to enter into an alliance or demand more favourable terms because of discomfort at being associated with the company.

Employees – Not wanting to be associated with a company that takes advantage of its customers, or believing that future opportunities at the company are limited, decide to take other jobs.

Financial markets and lenders – Believe the growth prospects of the firm are limited or even worse, that the business model is no longer valid. Discount the share price and demand more onerous lending terms

Government regulators – After a few politicians make speeches mentioning the fine, an aggressive regulatory agency puts a team of lawyers on the case to decide whether the company has broken the law and should face further fines or limitations on doing business

The downside of failing to meet stakeholder expectations can be enormous. In many cases, brand equity value is the single biggest component of a company‘s market value, even exceeding book assets.

Sixty-three percent of a company‘s market value is attributed to reputation (Weber Shandwick/KRC Research, Safeguarding Reputation, 2006).

The growth of the Internet-powered economy has dramatically raised the importance of reputation. Today, the velocity of information flow has increased to a level unthinkable in the years before the proliferation of websites, blogs, e-mail, instant messaging and other Internet-powered communications. In this environment, we say: Semel emissum volat irrevocabile verbum (Horace).

Loosely translated, this means that once the word is out, it has flown and cannot be brought back. In today‘s wired business environment, positive events may bring incremental benefits, while negative perceptions can spread like wildfire, with devastating results to a company‘s reputation and, ultimately, its shareholder value.

While a company‘s reputation can be harmed by a single major event, more frequently, reputations are harmed over time by “erosion” – slowly chipped away by one unsatisfactory stakeholder interaction after another. For example, dissatisfied customers are more likely to do less business with a company than they are to abandon it completely. Yet the cumulative impact of these decisions can be profound.

Question: Can you really afford to not manage your stakeholders? No wonder that, in the King 3 Code specific mention is made of the importance of stakeholder inclusivity (,i.e. that the legitimate interests and expectations of stakeholders are considered when deciding in the best interests of the company), stakeholder identification and determination of expectations and needs, the proactive management of stakeholder relationships, and that management should develop a strategy and formulate policies for the management of relationships with each stakeholder grouping.

To learn more about how to manage and engage stakeholders, you should consider attending the following event:

What: Stakeholder Reputation Management Master Class
This intensive 2-day training seminar explores international best practice approaches to Stakeholder & Reputation Management and will help organisations to comply with Section 8 of the King Code 3 Guidelines on Corporate Governance. The course gives a delegate the practical, experienced guidance they need for designing a successful Stakeholder Reputation Management system and includes a dedicated look at communication, engagement and relationship building and reputation enhancement practices. To register, e-mail
When: Monday, November 26, 2012 8:30 AM to Tuesday, November 27, 2012 3:30 PM
Where: Apollo Hotel, Randburg, Johannesburg

158 Bram Fischer Drive Johannesburg 2118
Johannesburg, Gauteng 2118   South Africa

The Dates for the Remainder of my 2012 Public Training

Please check out and register for my remaining 2012 public courses. I will facilitate a Stakeholder Reputation Management Master Class, a Product Recall Crisis Management workshop, a Reputation Protection & Defence seminar and a Marketing and Growing a Consulting Practice workshop during November & December.

Test your Ability to Communicate

A Primary Skill for a Reputation Manager is the ability to communicate professionally in many circumstances and conditions.

However we all think we are capable communicators whilst the receivers of our communication sometimes differ from opinion.

Let’s really see just how valid this contention is.

Here is an oldie but goodie self – test that you can take to measure your ability to communicate.

Instructions for Self-Test

Print yourself a copy of the test. Then complete it within 4 minutes. This is sufficient time if you concentrate and work rapidly. Let’s go.


1. Read everything before doing anything.
2. Print your name in the upper right-hand corner.
3. Circle the work “name” in sentence two.
4. Draw two small squares in the upper left-hand corner.
5. Put an X in each square.
6. Sign your name under the title.
7. After the title, write “yes”.
8. Put a circle around each work in sentence six.
9. Put an “X’ in the upper left-hand corner of this paper.
10. Draw a triangle around the “X” you just put down.
11. On the reverse side of this paper, multiply 703 by 9,805.
12. Draw a rectangle around the work “paper” in sentence nine.
13. Callout your first name when you get to this point in the test.
14. If you feel that you have followed directions up to this point, callout “I have”.
15. On the reverse side of this paper add 8,850 and 9,805.
16. Put a circle around your answer in No. 15, put a square around the circle.
17. Count out loud in your normal speaking voice, backwards from 10 to 1.
18. Now that you have finished reading carefully, do only sentences one and two.

How did you fare?

Something is Clearly Wrong with Employee Engagement in South Africa

An article in the Sunday Times Business “SA Strike Rate highest in the World” certainly caught my attention. This article set out the days lost in SA as being nearly double that of other countries and some instances at nearly 10 times the days lost in a country like Italy.

However what really got my attention was the these two contrasting statements:

  1. Mike Schüssler, Economist – “All over the world labour unions act mores strategically and think more tactically than SA unions do”
  2. Patrick Craven, Cosatu spokesman – ‘ Employers cannot try to blame workers for their own inability to conduct negotiations in a constructive ways which would avoid strikes’

Constructive ways? Not thinking strategically?

These contrasting statements points to a problem with employee engagement and internal communication and should be addressed rather urgently by companies.

Adcorp also pointed to this in its latest employment index report and I quote – ‘The inability to get workers to perform and the inability to pay them for their performance, are the single biggest drivers of low employment”.

The word engagement came to me whilst reading this article. To me Engagement means how to capture the Hearts, Minds, Hands and Heads of the people that work for you.

I wrote about this in my blog post – The Employee is NOT a Stakeholder –

I received quite a number of responses to my post ranging from supporting my stance to some querying my use of international models. One post queried the use of the concept of employee stakeholder profiling when dealing with unionised employees as it might be seen as “discrimination”.

The reason that I wrote the post was to evoke debate. I wanted to raise an understanding of the need to segment the employee stakeholder or at least considering ‘different strokes for different folks’.

Obviously there are many models or windows through which to look at the employee stakeholder group. This is why I use these models and various research studies in my workshops to show up differences and enhance dialogue and learning’s.

One author once said that there is nothing as practical as a good theory. One of the biggest dangers that I would caution against is that everything must be home grown.

Benchmarking against international research is crucial and taking the parts that can be used.

Nevertheless, the conventional wisdom about generational differences in the workplace is mostly wrong, according to a new book by Jennifer J. Deal, a research scientist with the Centre for Creative Leadership.

The shorthand used to describe the four generations that now make up the workforce goes something like this:

  • The Silent Generation (born before 1946) values hard work
  • Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) value loyalty
  • Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1980) value work-life balance
  • Generation Y (the generation just entering the workforce, also known as Millennials) values innovation and change.

Or, in terms of negative stereotypes, the Silent’s are fossilized, the Boomers are narcissistic, the Gen Xers are slackers, and the Gen Yers/Millennials are even more narcissistic than the Boomers.

Not so, says Deal. She argues that the generations now of working age value essentially the same things. Her findings, based on seven years of research in which she surveyed more than 3,000 corporate leaders, are presented in her new book, Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young & Old Can Find Common Ground (Jossey-Bass).

“Our research shows that when you hold the stereotypes up to the light, they don’t cast much of a shadow,” says Deal. “Everyone wants to be able to trust their supervisors, no one really likes change, we all like feedback, and the number of hours you put in at work depends more on your level in the organization than on your age.”

Clearly, people of different ages see the world in different ways. But Deal says that’s not the primary reason for generational conflict. The conflict has less to do with age or generational differences than it does with clout—who has it and who wants it.

“The so-called generation gap is, in large part, the result of miscommunication and misunderstanding, fuelled by common insecurities and the desire for clout,” says Deal.

Miscommunication. Misunderstanding. Deals says it. Craven refers to it.

This clearly illustrates to me a need to take a relook at the process and rationale of employee engagement and internal communication, because something clearly is not working.

This is something that I am going to explore in more detail in my upcoming workshop on Strategic Employee Stakeholder Engagement on the 18th – 19th August in Johannesburg.

Strategic Marketing and its implications for Professional Service Providers

Many of my readers may not be aware that I facilitate Marketing a Professional Practice workshops.

These workshops are designed to teach professional service providers ranging from architects to doctors to management consultants how to build their reputation and market themselves elegantly in an inter-connected society.

At my last workshop, I was asked for a classical explanation of strategic marketing and its value and why it should be in writing. So, here is my response:

As Lee Iacocca, former chairman of Chrysler says that the discipline of writing things down is the first step toward achieving them.

Strategic Marketing is a conscious and systematic process that involves the following steps:

  • Selecting target market segments using such classification as industry, readiness for consulting, company or division size, function, or issues such as productivity etc.
  • Analysing the specific needs of those market segments;
  • Developing the capabilities to address the target markets’ needs with expertise, relevant programs, and assessment and evaluation tools (that includes determining costs, prices and delivering service options);
  • Designing visibility and credibility strategies to increase name recognition and reputation in the selected marketplaces;
  • Identifying prospects and making presentations to specifically address prospective clients’ unique interests;
  • Providing the highest quality of consultant services on client projects;
  • Managing consultant client relationships to ensure on-going mutually beneficial partnerships.

Develop & Implement Cost-Effective Strategies, Tools & Techniques

The late Howard Shenson, in his book “The Complete guide to Consulting Success” writes that the marketing strategies consultants use have a profound effect on their chances for success.

He advocated the use of low – cost and no –cost strategies for consultants as his research showed that the use of indirect, more public relations like activities are far more effective than direct, hard-sell techniques that so many consultants use.

Tom Lambert echoed this in the book “High-Income Consulting”. Lambert used to conduct, in Europe, the world’s leading seminar on building and sustaining a consultant practice, which was attended by more than 200, 000 attendees worldwide. Lambert said that your overall marketing strategy should be aimed at becoming well known in your field, and that indirect methods of marketing brings clients to you.

He also emphasised that the tactics that you select must be consistent with the reputation and image that you want to create.

Laurence G, Boldt writes in the book “Zen and the art of making a living” that the name of the game in marketing is circulation.

Getting into circulation – and staying in circulation. Getting out and meeting people is circulating. Circulating flyers, making speeches is circulation”.

I liken it to Name Recognition. Whatever technique or tactic you use must be designed to increase your name recognition and to build your reputation. Above all, you need imagination and effort to try and see what works and what don’t work.

For more information and some handy tips regarding marketing consultancy services, read my chapter that I wrote called ‘Consultancy Marketing: Developing the Right Mindset’ in the book The Advice Business – Essential tools and models for Management Consulting by Prof. Charles Formbrun and Mark D.Nevins or attend the next Marketing a Professional Practice workshop in Johannesburg on the 24th June.

Footnote: The Marketing a Professional Practice workshop used to be called Marketing a Consulting Practice. Due to it attracting professionals like architects, lawyers and other professionals I have decided to change the name to be more in line with the target market.

Upcoming Training Courses – Dates for the rest of 2011

I offer specialised multi-disciplinary training courses and workshops for Corporate Affairs, PR & Communication, Stakeholder managers & OD practitioners and teams. I work in-house with Leaders, Executives, The Board and staff based on need, as well as consultants and professionals who want to build a reputation in an interconnected knowledge economy.

I am currently offering an Early Bird Special booking discount for all courses starting in July – valid until the 10th June. Now is the time to diarise these dates and up your game. Book online by clicking on the links or e-mail for a registration form.

Here are the dates for my public training courses:

Stakeholder Reputation Management Master Class

• 21 – 22 July
• 22 – 23 September
• 24 – 25 November

Reputation Risk Management Master Class

• 5 – 6 July
• 6 – 7 October
• 5 – 6 December

Strategic Employee Stakeholder Engagement

• 13 – 14 June
• 18 – 19 August

Marketing a Professional Practice

• 24 June
• 26 August
• 27 September
• 4 November

Other programs for in-house teams include Product Recall Crisis Management, Media Survival Skills, Crisis Management & Crisis Communication for Reputation Protection and Transforming Organizational Thinking Patterns.

Upcoming Reputation Management Training Seminars

img-1109Here are the dates for my next round of public workshops. My last events were oversubscribed so it is essential that you register early to secure your seat. If you want me to train your team in-house, just give me a call.

4 – 5 May – My Flagship Training Event –Stakeholder Reputation Management Master Class – It covers stakeholder profiling, stakeholder communication, stakeholder engagement & relationship management, as well as the criteria to use to measure the success of relationships and the ROI in programs.

13 – 14 June: Strategic Employee Stakeholder Engagement – Becoming an Admired Employer, from the inside out

5 – 6 July: Reputation Risk Management Master Class – This Masterclass is a must attend for those interested in closing the gaps between reputation management & risk management in the organization. It covers an in depth look at reputation risk, reputation root cause analysis, creating a reputation risk management framework and how to respond to a reputation event – online and offline.

And something for Consultants & Professional Service Providers:

19 May: Marketing & Promoting your Consulting Business

Register now!

Dates for the next Stakeholder Reputation Management Masterclass

The next Stakeholder Reputation Management Masterclass takes place from the 4th – 5th May in Johannesburg, ZA.

Experience has shown that when relationships with any stakeholders sour, the impact on bottom line and reputation can be severe. This two day program explores ways and means to enhance reputation through better stakeholder relationships and engaging their hearts and minds.

The course will explore the best practice approach to Stakeholder & Reputation Management processes, in accordance with international best practice and will help organisations to comply with Section 8 of the King Code 3 Guidelines on Corporate Governance. The course gives a delegate the practical, experienced guidance they need for designing a successful Stakeholder Reputation Management system.

It covers stakeholder profiling, stakeholder communication, stakeholder engagement & relationship management, as well as the criteria to use to measure the success of relationships and the ROI in programs.

There is an Early Bird booking special available – 10% discount on any payment option valid until this Friday, the 8th April. All you have to do, is to go online, click YES if interested. Fill in your details and I will then follow up with you.

Register online –

This is what one of the delegates that attended the last seminar, had to say about it: ‘It is a must for any communications, marketing, Human resource, project manager, organizations …… the list goes on and on. It really gives one an edge when put what we have learned in practice. I have applied this since coming back and I have seen an increase in my relationship with the specialists who support my projects inspired to act, I have increased my rapport with them, they are going an extra mile for me as I have focused on them not me. Some of the tools I already knew however I was not applying them intelligently. You have really opened my mind to think broadly and it reinforces better planning. It helps you to connect, create meaningful bonds as you will know what each stakeholder need to know – you share what they need to know, using the right media and at the right time. You are also able to anticipate possible areas of resistance/issues and deal them upfront. If this is the only career investment I make this year, then the money is well spend.’

Let me know if you would like to join us for an insightful and interesting learning experience. Who else in your organization will benefit from attending such a program? Please forward me their e-mail details, so that I can send them the information.


12 – 13 April – Strategic Employee Stakeholder Engagement Master Class –

During this two day workshop‚ you will learn how to boost internal stakeholder engagement & communication‚ enhance professional stakeholder management processes and enhance the organisations’ quest to be an admired employer.

Join us!

Deon Binneman to facilitate a Crisis Management and Communication for Reputation Protection training seminar in Beijing

I have been contracted to run a course for Marcus Evans called Crisis Management and Communication for Reputation Protection at the Grand Millennium hotel, Beijing, China 24 – 25 March.

Check out the Event Website:

Employee Engagement can Make a Difference

This story came to me via Seth Godin’s blog and is called Sad Tim, and forms an ideal introduction to my post.

‘At the post office the other day, a guy wearing a beautiful handmade scarf finishes his transaction and starts away from the counter.

A small nail holding the moulding apparently isn’t hammered in all the way. It catches the scarf, pulls the threads and ruins the scarf. The man turns to the counter, looks at the postal worker who took his money and says, "There’s a loose nail here, it just ruined my scarf."

Tim, the postal worker, beaten down, tired, given up, stands behind the counter and barely makes eye contact. "Oh."

End of interaction.

When you allow (yes, allow) all humanity to be stripped from your day, all day, then what?’

Organisations are slowly realising that they NEED to change to differentiate themselves from the competition and the process that they use with employees is now called Employee Engagement. To  some it is just a buzzword but to others it is a strategy that sets their firm apart from another i.e. To become an Admired Company and preferred employer.

Managing your organization’s reputation has become one of the most important strategic imperatives for any organization. An Organization’s reputation is derived from the way the organization is perceived by its various stakeholders.

2137729430_11b29f9164_bThese perceptions are impacted and influenced to a large extent by how the organization behaves and performs. The engagement of the Employee stakeholder in this vital process is essential, as a reputation is built from the inside outward. Living the brand promise, changing employees into reputation builders and not destroyers and brand ambassadors is a vital strategy in this quest.

It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it. That’s why you need to take the measure of employee engagement at least once a year through anonymous surveys in which people feel completely safe to speak their minds.” — Jack Welch, Former CEO, General Electric

The employee stakeholder needs to be treated with care. Creating a positive work environment is of mutual benefit to employers and employees and builds loyalty. Employee communication programs should be designed to create opportunities for strengthening the relationships between employees and management. The many changes that the work fabric has encountered over the past 10 years have eroded the traditional loyalty approach that many employees had.

With constant cost cutting, restructuring, downsizing, mergers, employee equity drives and outsourcing happening all the time, employees must start to wonder when it will happen next at his area of work. Under the old “social contract” between employee and employer, the employee expected a lifetime or long-term job in exchange for regular promotions, benefits and a pension.

In the “new work order”, employees will seek short-term social contracts in which employee and employer will outline mutual commitments for each other’s success. Such agreements will be individually forged. “Making generalizations” about what will work for all employees is not realistic anymore.

In many research surveys on company loyalty, workers in hourly and customer service categories scored the lowest. While low wages in those categories are a factor, customer service workers had the lowest loyalty scores even after accounting for the effects of income. That finding may be a major cause for concern, one study said, because customer service workers are most likely to be in a position to influence customers’ perceptions of a company.

One study looked at six factors controlled by companies that could affect loyalty namely the direction the company is heading, work satisfaction, recognition and rewards, opportunity for growth, work environment and work/life balance. Companies need to give consideration to all six factors to improve employee commitment but some studies show that recognition and rewards and opportunities for growth need the most attention.

Companies need to evaluate themselves, and then decide what steps need to be taken. Too many companies are relying on resources and programs from the old social contract, the researchers said.

The bottom line is that employer – employee relations is at the ebb of change, and that it is now even more important to build these relationships. The role of the stakeholder reputation manager is to ensure that these relationships are important on both sides of the relationship.

Hewitt defines Employee Engagement as “The state of emotional and intellectual commitment of a person, group or organisation to the entity with whom they are employed.” Whilst another definition states that it is “employees who are mentally and emotionally invested in their work and in contributing to their employer’s success.”

A result achieved by stimulating employees’ enthusiasm for their work and directing it toward organizational success. To do this, engagement calls for striking a new bargain with employees: Organizations invest in creating the conditions that make work more meaningful and rewarding for employees. And employees, in return, pour extra effort into their work and delivering superior performance.

This means that the Employee Stakeholder needs to be carefully profiled and engaged.

Footnote – The above is an extract of my Strategic Employee Stakeholder Engagement program that I recently launched and facilitated in Malaysia and will repeat in Johannesburg from the 2nd – 3rd March. See for more information.

Listen to my Radio interview on Reputation Risk

I had a radio interview last night with John Fraser of Classic FM Business. Take a listen and let me know how you thought it went.

Classic Business with John Fraser & Brand Pretorius, CEO: McCarthy & Deon BInneman: Reputation Management Consultant – 21 October 2010

Protecting your Organisation against Reputation Risk

Reputations take years to build, but a moment to destroy. No wonder that Warren Buffett uttered these famous words – “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it and if you understand this you will do things differently”

Reputations can be damaged for a number of reasons, including consumer perceptions that a company is unethical.

"Many reputation risks are the secondary result of other, more traditionally recognized risks," The Conference Board states. "For example, if a manufacturer produces an unsafe product, it may lose customers and is likely to suffer financial costs due to a product recall, both of which affect reputation." (See also my Powerlines newsletter Nr. 87 dated September 2009).

Thus it becomes vital for an organisation to decide whether they will treat reputation risk as a strategic risk or consequence of a risk.

Some studies show that the jury is still out on this. Studying the real reasons of reputation risk is important, as our experience have shown, using techniques such as reputation risk root cause analysis, which often shows that that reputation risk has its origins in areas such as the corporate culture, mismanagement of issues and/or relationships with stakeholders.

Reputation risk can be defined as the risk arising from negative perception on the part of stakeholders such as customers, shareholders, investors, analysts, other relevant parties or regulators that can adversely affect an organisation’s ability to maintain existing, or establish new, business relationships and have continued access to resources.

This is why, according to The Conference Board, increasingly more global companies are investing substantial resources to manage their reputation risk and, over the last three years, have increased their efforts to do so.

"Senior executives are acutely aware of how serious today’s reputational challenge is," according to McKinsey. "Most recognize the perception that some companies in certain sectors (particularly financial services) have violated their social contract with consumers, shareholders, regulators and taxpayers. They also know that this perception seems to have spilled over to business more broadly."

Although greater attention is being paid to reputation risks, findings from AON Corporation’s recent 2009 Global Risk Management Survey indicate that less than two-thirds of respondents have formally reviewed the "damage to reputation" risk or have a plan in place, even though it was in the top 10 risks list.

Similarly, The USA Conference Board determined that less than half of executives surveyed have reputation risk incorporated into a risk management function or another risk oversight program.

No matter a company’s current reputation, there are constructive steps it can take to move in the right direction. Charles Fombrun, founder and chairman of the private research and advisory firm Reputation Institute, explains that repairing reputation damage is a three-part process *:

1) identifying the factors and parties that contributed to the crisis;

2) developing initiatives that address those root causes; and

3) engaging with affected stakeholders to rebuild the reputation of the system as a whole.

Between The Conference Board and Reputation Institute, and my 14 years of consulting, we’ve gleaned the following broad steps to managing reputation risk:

1. Identify reputational risks. The Reputation Institute advises assessing the gap between stakeholder’s perceptions/beliefs and the company’s actual performance. Nearly 60 percent of The Conference Board’s respondents indicated that assessing the perceptions and concerns of stakeholders was an extremely or very significant issue, making it the highest-ranked challenge. The King Report 3 on Corporate Governance in South Africa also places the following responsibility on the Board of Directors of a modern company, namely that the Board should ensure that the company’s reputational risk is protected. (REPUCOMM, my consultancy use some proprietary techniques to uncover risk and threats seldom thought about or challenged).

2. Prioritize reputation risks and stakeholders. The Reputation Institute recommends assessing the probability of risks and the impact of the risk on reputation. Efforts are being made to quantify the value of reputation. A select group of companies is making progress in this area by working with specialist consulting firms to quantify the impact of reputation on share price, according to The Conference Board. We actually worked with a client to develop impact scales to measure these. (a Stakeholder Question – Does your Stakeholder Profiling plan include thought leaders, the voiceless and their representatives and new emerging stakeholder groupings in your field? Including stakeholders such as Generation Y, Millennials and new issue driven groups?)

3. Identify effective means for mitigating risks and executing the risk strategy. The Reputation Institute says to assess the best response strategy based on controllability of risk, the impact of risk on the business across stakeholders and the cost of implementing the strategy. According to The Conference Board, a company’s reputation should be considered during the preparation and execution of strategy and new projects, which hasn’t been the case in most companies. It is REPUCOMM’s professional opinion that an integrated crisis management & crisis communication response plan is a vital tool in this regard, since research has shown that those companies that respond the most positively to a crisis, weathers the storms best. Just like Noah built the Ark seven days before it rained. We also assist companies to plan and execute their Crisis Management & Communication response in a positive manner.(We have also developed a Crisis Toolkit that will enable companies to save time and resources in developing such a plan and response strategy)

4. Monitor changing beliefs and expectations. The Reputation Institute advises closely monitoring changes in stakeholders’ beliefs and expectations that may affect reputation. Media monitoring has become more sophisticated, providing more tools to assess good, bad or neutral coverage and its prominence. Social media are gaining influence, but most companies are slow to monitor and use this fast growing media tool. More consumers and investors are gathering information from blogs, online forums and social networking sites, but only 34 percent of Conference Board respondents said they extensively monitor such sites, and only 10 percent actively participated in them.

REPUCOMM recommends ongoing stakeholder research and monitoring of macro & micro environmental changes together with media monitoring and issue analysis.

"Ultimately," senior consultant Dr. Majorie Dijkstr writes at Reputation Institute, "risk management is about both anticipating strategic issues and leveraging opportunities to engage with the company’s key stakeholders around topics and initiatives that are most relevant to them.

Some questions to consider:


  • Does your PR person serve on the Risk Committee?
  • How often does the PR person, Risk and Compliance Officers do scenario planning & joint risk assessments?
  • Have you educated and trained your senior executives in reputation building, the understanding of intangibles and the value of reputation as an asset as well as the protection of corporate reputation?
  • Do your PR, Corporate Affairs & Corporate Communication staff understand Risk Management & Social Media; two vital tools to understand in Reputation Risk Management?

(Read my article – Building a Reputational Risk Avoidance system – Powerlines newsletter Number 44 dated 31 August 2003 – yes, I have been writing about this stuff long before it became in vogue)

Footnote: I will facilitate a Reputation Risk Management Master Class from the 19th – 20th October in Johannesburg, South Africa that will address many of these issues and strategies.

* REPUCOMM provides essential consulting solutions & educational support through the facilitation of two master classes addressing Stakeholder Reputation & Reputation Risk Mitigation. Most recently we consulted to; and assisted a large telecommunications company prior to its stock exchange listing to entrench reputation risk in its Enterprise wide risk management system.

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Stakeholder Reputation Management Masterclass 19 – 20 May

What: Stakeholder Reputation Management Masterclass
This acclaimed two-day Masterclass focuses on the strategic management of stakeholder relationships and enables organisations to comply with Section 8 of the King Code 3 on Corporate Governance. It will provide managers with a structured stakeholder management approach and the know-how and means to strategically guide and influence relationship building, communication and engagement practices in their respective organisations. Target Audience: Reputation Managers, Stakeholder Relations Managers, Public Relations & Corporate Communication Managers, Channel Managers and those responsible for managing any form of Business relationships. For more information e-mail me at or Register online
When: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 (all day)
Where: Hotel Apollo, Ferndale, Randburg

Johannesburg, Gauteng   South Africa

Reputation Protection & Defence Master Class 7 – 8 December

What: Reputation Protection & Defence Master Class
A 2 day Master Class that will enable Reputation Managers, Risk Managers and Crisis Management controllers to design and implement strategies and frameworks to mitigate reputation risk and manage repoutation risk incidents when they occur. (Event is already 50% full)
When: Monday, December 7, 2009 8:30 AM to Tuesday, December 8, 2009 3:30 PM
Where: Hotel Apollo, Ferndale, Randburg, Johannesburg

Johannesburg, Gauteng   South Africa

Announcement – Deon Binneman to Facilitate Specialist Reputation Management training courses in November


During the month of November I will be facilitating the following training courses in Johannesburg. These courses are designed to enhance your reputation management efforts.


10 November, Hotel Apollo, Ferndale, Randburg, Johannesburg


This challenging 1-day workshop enables participants to acquire the skills and competencies required to market professional services and/or a consulting practice. Through specialised, detailed and highly focused training, it provides delegates with the tools and necessary practical framework of every consulting marketing aspect. Upon completion of the course, trainees are able to design and develop a marketing plan that will take into account personal, impersonal and social media marketing techniques.

Read more:

11- 12 November, Hotel Apollo, Ferndale, Randburg, Johannesburg


This intensive 2-day training seminar explores international best practice approaches to Stakeholder & Reputation Management and will help organisations to comply with Section 8 of the King Code 3 Guidelines on Corporate Governance. The course gives a delegate the practical, experienced guidance they need for designing a successful Stakeholder Reputation Management system and includes a dedicated look at communication, engagement and relationship building and reputation enhancement practices.

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18 – 19 November, Hotel Apollo, Ferndale, Randburg, Johannesburg


This two-day Masterclass provides comprehensive and practical coverage of all aspects on how to protect and defend an organisation’s reputation, and is based on more than 25 years research and experience on how to protect business reputations. It provides ways of implementing reputation risk management and protection frameworks and examines the four different ways to define reputation risk. The course includes online reputation risk, crisis management & crisis communication strategies.

Read more :

Registration forms for these courses can be obtained from Deon Binneman by sending an e-mail to

These courses will be of particular interest to managers interested in the management of corporate reputation, prevention of crises and quality of relationships, It is of particular relevance and benefit to Corporate Affairs, Public Relations, Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Officers, Risk Managers, Compliance Officers & Corporate Communication practitioners, consultants and Professional Services Providers.

Registrations for these courses closes this Friday the 6th November. More information about the facilitator can be obtained at

Book now to secure your place.

Stakeholder Reputation Management Master Class Registrations Close Today!


Your chance to register for next week’s Stakeholder Reputation ends this afternoon – Thursday, the 15th October at close of business.

This is an ideal opportunity to join friends and colleagues to learn about the important strategic subject of managing stakeholders and their impact on organisational reputation.

Here is a quick test for you. Can you answer the following strategic questions:

  • Who are our stakeholders?
  • What are our stakeholders’ stakes?
  • What opportunities and challenges do stakeholders present?
  • What economic, legal, ethical, and social responsibilities does our organisation have?
  • What strategies or actions should we take to best manage stakeholder challenges and opportunities?
  • Do you have a system for managing relationships with stakeholders?
  • How do you measure results? What metrics do you use to assess and gauge stakeholder relationships?
  • In a crisis how quickly can you communicate with your relevant stakeholders?
  • Do you know the various methods to engage with stakeholders and when not to use it?
  • Can you state how much you are spending on each stakeholder group and what your ROI is?
  • Have you developed a set of rules on how best to manage the process of building stakeholder reputation with each stakeholder group?

To learn the answers to these questions and many more, attend the Stakeholder Reputation Master Class next week at the Hotel Apollo in Randburg, Johannesburg, South Africa.

To learn more about the program, go to or e-mail for a brochure and registration form.

This is the last Stakeholder Reputation Master Class event for 2009 so register now.

Hope to see you there and share valuable learning experiences with you !

P.S If you are interested in learning more about professional services and consulting practice marketing, check out my workshop for consultants and interested individuals – Monday 10 November : Market your Consulting Practice: