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March 21, 2012

PRSA Comments on Restoring Goldman Sachs’ Reputation in ‘USA TODAY’ Letter to the Editor

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) had a letter to the editor of USA TODAY published in the March 21, 2012, print and online editions in response to a March 15, 2012, editorial that examined the reputational fallout for Goldman Sachs following a scathing New York Times op-ed about the firm. In the letter, PRSA advocates that Goldman executives use the ensuing firestorm as an opportunity to engage in honest and transparent communications to rebuild the firm’s reputation and credibility with its clients and the public.
Published: March 21, 2012

Greg Smith's public resignation from Goldman Sachs confirmed what many already suspected: The firm's reputation has been severely compromised not only by its own actions but also by the apparent lack of respect it has for its customers and the public ("Editorial: Goldman Sachs exec's parting exposes the firm").
Smith's public shaming of Goldman presents an opportunity for the firm to commence a proactive and transparent program of internal and external communications to begin the reputation-repair process. Smith's opinion piece states that what Goldman officials communicated to the public about the firm's value to society had little resemblance to what was communicated internally. As Smith smartly noted, "If clients don't trust you, they will eventually stop doing business with you." That should be a wake-up call to all executives and politicians, especially at a time when the public has little trust in either group.
We can only hope that the Goldman Sachs executive team will use this firestorm as an opportunity to right the firm's many public trust and reputation issues. That effort can begin with honest and transparent communications about the firm's practices and the beneficial role it ought to have in and on behalf of society.
Gerard F. Corbett
Chair and CEO
Public Relations Society of America
New York City

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