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Opinions of Thursday, 25 June 2020

Columnist: Patrick Twumasi

Corporate reputation management verse coronavirus

In public relations practice, reputation reigns high as organizations brands run on this all-important tool. Shakespeare called reputation "The purest treasure mortal times afford" He added that men in ancient times have fought duels and killed for it.

Additionally, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in 2010 defined Public Relations as being “about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say, what others say about you” Fombrun and Van Riel see corporate reputation as a collective representation of a firm's past actions and results that describes the firm's ability to deliver valued outcomes to multiple stakeholders.

These stakeholders, according to Nicoli and Komodromos can be individuals or groups, including organizations, external or internal, “with common characteristics and traits” with an interest in the organization, that directly or indirectly, influence, can influence or are affected by the actions of the organization. Therefore, the relationship that an organization builds with the stakeholders has a long term impact on their survival or collapse.

Many companies are donating huge sums of money, gallons of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, food and beverages, and Personal Protective Equipment in support of the fight against the novel coronavirus. Some companies in Ghana and around the world have gone further to utter their production line. For instance, Kasapreko Company Limited known for the production of alcoholic beverages is now producing alcohol-based hand sanitizers, while Ford, the automobile manufacturer in the United States is manufacturing ventilators. These alterations and donations are part of the Corporate Social Responsibility of companies in support of the world's effort to defeat this global pandemic.

Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that, after the second world war, the contributions of companies to the success of the fighting were analyzed. Firms whose stories were poor suffered and some even folded up. What will be the narrative of your firm when the dust of COVID-19 settles? Contributions of organizations towards the fight of this novel viral disease are being observed and documented by the various stakeholders.

Therefore, like Ghana, and the world at the large fight this pandemic, what a firm does in support will be recounted as their past actions that will position them in the future as haven the ability to deliver to multiple stakeholders. Suffice, to say that, reputation is attained through the consistent performance of an organization over some time.

Reputation is image related concept. Hence, the billionaire Warren Buffet once said "If you lose dollars for the firm by bad decisions, I will be very understanding. If you lose reputation for the firm, I will be ruthless” This points to the fact that good corporate reputation is a valuable and competitive asset. Therefore, the success or failure of organizations and institutions depends on reputation, which is consistency-based and dependent on trust and transparency.

Accordingly, Nigel Ferrier, wrote in the Journal, the Drum in 2012 that “Companies live and die by their reputation, and since the advent of social networking, they live and die a lot quicker”. Many people around the world, especially, Ghana are following the activities of companies in this dire period of the fight against this pandemic, which is devastating countries. Therefore, the least contribution toward this global fight will not escape the memory of many stakeholders. In other words, the actions of companies today will be recounted and labeled against them as performers or otherwise.
Unfortunately, organizations' profits have taken a nose dive and some virtually brought to near collapse.

This has led to firms looking for ways to free their overhead cost. Some are quick to cut jobs, leaving many employees redundant and without any source of income, while other firms cut salaries thereby creating a safety net for their staff in this crisis period. The current employee relations will have an impact on organizations post-COVID-19.

When the dust finally settles, what will be your firm's story of contributions toward the defeat of the disease? The opportunity has presented itself for firms to build a reputation against future crises.
Let us work together to defeat this pandemic.

Together we shall overcome this challenge as well.

Patrick Twumasi
Head, Public Relations
Non-Formal Education Division of Ministry of Education
ayalolo4@gmail.com

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