PR can do only so much; reputation management goes far deeper

Restoring a damaged brand takes a huge amount of work. You’re better off heading off unwise decisions at every staff level. Here’s how to avoid devastating blunders.

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You have a PR problem, because you have an actual problem.”

Leona Lansing, the fictional cable news executive on HBO’s “The Newsroom,” was on to something when she said that to a fellow exec.

The public has seen it—a lot:

Those organizations each resorted to a news conference, a press release, a catchy marketing slogan or TV interviews in the hope the problem would go away.

PR can minimize the damage caused by operational and managerial missteps, but it can’t fix stupid.

“I’ve often seen leaders think that a crisis can be resolved in a day or two, in the misguided belief that things can’t get worse,” said Stephanie Nora White, founder and managing partner of WPNT Ltd., an international communications consultancy. “While the acute phase of a crisis may end quickly, true change comes from living through it, as difficult as that may be. Much of the heavy lifting that will reveal the root cause and changes necessary to fix the problem usually don’t come until later and require real work and commitment.”

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