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May 24, 2011

PRSA: Reputation Insurance is No Substitute for Public Relations — Financial Times Letter to the Editor

PRSA had a letter to the editor published May 24, 2011, in The Financial Times in response to a May 8 article and May 17 column on the challenges of reputation management for executives. The letter advocates the value of proactive public relations for successful reputation management versus the increasing use of reputation insurance to offset crises.

Letters: Reputation Insurance: Not a Substitute for Public Relations
Published: May 24, 2011

From Ms. Rosanna M. Fiske.

Sir, Andrew Hill’s column, “Beware the reputation managers” (Business Life, May 17), and your previous article, “Insurance for groups to restore reputations” (May 8), shone much-needed light on the value of reputation management, but also raised issues regarding executives’ understanding of the role they play in managing their reputations and that of their businesses.
Having the resources and expertise of the marketing services group WPP and the insurance broker Aon at one’s beck and call is a reassuring thought for many chief executives, but does not address the core issue of why a business would require a reputational insurance policy in the first place. That often boils down to reassessing how a company relates to its public, something insurance policies were never meant to do, but is the expertise of experienced public relations and communications professionals.
I agree with Mr. Hill that purchasing reputation insurance to hedge one’s bets against the inevitable crisis may cause some executives to see the policy as a “panacea for their management shortcomings”. In essence, it becomes a short-term fix to what is often a long-term problem.
Insurance is useful when the outlook looks dire, but strategic and proactive public relations can be immensely valuable no matter the situation a business faces.
Rosanna M. Fiske
Chair and CEO
Public Relations Society of America
New York, NY, US

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