Not a week passes without headlines that excoriate some corporate executive for mishandling an operational crisis that has mushroomed into a public relations disaster. Despite impeccable credentials and accomplished careers, many chief executives find themselves looking foolish after responding obtusely to common and inevitable threats to their companies' reputations.
From Warren Buffet attempting to explain away insider trading at Berkshire Hathaway (BRK/A) to Tony Hayward, formerly of BP (BP), complaining about getting his life back, the litany of gaffes certainly changes public perceptions and corporate reputation—along with company valuations and career trajectories. Why then, aren't even the highest-ranked MBA programs doing better at preparing graduates for eventual responsibilities in reputation management?
An analysis of highly ranked MBA programs by the Public Relations Society of America showed that only 16 percent offer a single course in crisis and conflict management, strategic communications, public relations, or whatever label one chooses to describe management of a precious organizational asset: reputation. Even that course is likely to be an elective. So glaring is this omission that it's typical for MBA-holding executives to assume "reputation management" or "public relations" is the black art of spinning an alternative version of reality, as though that works in today's wide-open, relentlessly scrutinized, electron-speed information environment.
Read the rest of the op-ed here.