The Power of Reputation

Emily Holbrook


June 1, 2012

Not long ago, AFA Foods was one of the largest ground beef processors in the United States. It filed for bankruptcy in April due to what many can certainly point to as severe reputational damage. AFA was brought down in a matter of days due to media coverage of the "pink slime" event that brought the public to near hysterics and terminally damaged the company's image.

Many of the world's largest banks endured the same type of reputational backlash after the 2008 financial collapse. For all companies, the most important asset is not found on their balance sheets but in the opinions of their customers.

This is a point Chris Komisarjevsky drives home in The Power of Reputation. The book is organized into three sections that explore the "critical factors" of character, communication and trust. In the first, he analyzes the new era of personal character, highlights experiences that shape character, asks the reader to define their values and touches on authenticity and respect.

The second part teaches readers how to understand others by "listening first and talking second," gives bulleted lists on how to effectively communicate and engage others and explains why the personal touch is so important in business. The third section deals solely with the foundations of trust -- how to build it, keep it and use it wisely -- as well as how to overcome threats to it.

Komisarjevsky is no stranger to protecting reputation. He is the former president and CEO of Burson-Marsteller, one of the world's largest public relations firms, and currently works as a public relations and reputation consultant. It is in The Power of Reputation that he has harnessed his decades of experience into one 210-page book.

By this point in time, we all know how important a company's reputation is. But within the pages of this book, we learn how to build, keep and grow such an asset. As Komisarjevsky says, "a loss of reputation or unwillingness to live up to a commitment and fulfill a promise can prove to be the leading edge of a major problem, if not advance warning of a looming collapse."
Emily Holbrook is the founder of Red Label Writing, LLC, a writing, editing and content strategy firm catering to insurance and risk management businesses and publications, and a former editor of Risk Management.