Put Your Reputation First

The head of CFM encouraged corporate leaders to manage their reputations by taking a disciplined approach to identify, evaluate and address known risks.Your reputation is a reflection of your character, CFM President Gary Conkling told members of the Association for Corporate Growth at their monthly meeting this week.

"Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said reputation is who others think you are, but your character is who you really are," Conkling said. "Understanding your reputation will reflect your character, putting your reputation first will lead to better decision-making by organizations and individuals.

ACG, which provides networking and professional education for business owners and executives, invited Conkling, who leads CFM's pubic relations practice, to speak about, "Reputation — how to earn it, how to burn it and how to protect it." 

"Reputations are earned by careful and attentive preparation and discipline," he said. "They are lost, often in seconds on social media, at the hands of poor judgment or short-term thinking."

Conkling noted that US Airways Captain "Sully" Sullenberger, the hero of the Miracle on the Hudson River, said his feat of safely landing a commercial jet with two disabled engines wasn't a miracle, but the byproduct of his preparation and the discipline to apply that preparation in a stressful situation.

Conkling urged corporate and nonprofit executives to follow a reputation management regimen that starts with a candid, comprehensive issues audit, includes a thorough risk analysis and results in an organizational to-do list.

"The issues audit will identify vulnerabilities," Conkling explained. "The risk analysis should highlight the most serious and probable vulnerabilities that you can control and afford to fix." 

Often mitigating or eliminating a vulnerability can transform an issue into an opportunity, he added. "You can gain a competitive advantage and curry customer loyalty by being the first to address a serious problem related to your product or service."

CFM is a leading firm in the Pacific Northwest that provides counsel on crisis and reputation management.