Issue 27, Summer 2012
Tarnished may be too mild a term. Fact is Rupert Murdoch’s mega-media empire’s brand in Britain is certainly showing a lot of wear and tear these days.
This story goes back to last summer when Rupert Murdoch shut down his media conglomerate’s 168-year-old tabloid, News of the World, one of the world’s largest circulating English-language newspapers, as a consequence of a phone-hacking scandal.
It was alleged that News of the World employees had, over several years, hacked the phones of thousands of British citizens — from innocent crime victims to members of the Royal Family — and bribed police officers for information.
At that time, several high-ranking Murdoch employees had resigned or been arrested, and other parts of the tycoon’s multi-billion-dollar, worldwide News Corp media empire were beginning to feel the ripple effects of the scandal, forcing Mr. Murdoch to issue the following public statement that, in part said, “We are sorry. The News of the World was in the business of holding others to account. It failed when it came to itself.”
File this under the all-too-familiar category of too little, too late.
The Murdochs’ plight is an archetypical example of what happens when organizations — regardless of how large or powerful — fail to understand that their brands, nay, very survival, are not so much a product of their marketing, advertising, public relations and political and financial connections.
Instead, their brand reputations are rooted in the public’s expectations of trustworthiness, honesty, integrity, ethical behavior, accountability, responsibility, transparency and decency.
And all of this falls squarely on the shoulders of an organization’s leaders and managers.
Whether it’s a multinational mega corporation, financial institution, nonprofit organization, political party or politician, government agency or religious institution, lost trust, often due to poor leadership, lax ethical standards or just plain poor decision-making, time and again results in a severely tarnished brand, or worst yet, an organization’s total demise.
The irony is that every organization, including News Corp, if asked, would say they would like nothing more than to earn our trust and respect. More ironic is that the vast majority of them spend an enormous amount of time, energy and financial resources trying to do just that.
The fact is it’s awfully difficult to separate leadership and management performance from brand identity.
Just ask the Murdochs!
As always, I look forward to receiving your feedback, questions, success stories and branding challenges. Also, if you are in need of a motivational speaker, trainer, branding consultant/coach, or management consultant who can help you answer the questions: Who are we? What do we do? How do we do it? And should anyone care? I invite you to for more information.
In the meantime, good luck with your branding! — Larry
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