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April 3, 2014 | cwinters | Tagged ,

Reputation Bracketology: General Motors vs. Bank of America

General Motors: A few months ago, GM seemed to be leading the charmed life. The “new GM” had put the bailout behind the company, and exuberance for its new CEO Mary Barra abounded. And then came the recall. Some experts say that Toyota’s settlement is a precursor for what may come for GM, which could change its game. But for right now, GM gets high marks for an effective, transparent response. Prior to the recall, Barra highlighted reducing bureaucracy as one of her priorities, and a culture of accountability will serve the company well during times of trouble. As a new CEO, she has the ability to be the person who solved the problem, without necessarily carrying the baggage of creating the problem. Bank of America: Thomas Jefferson had a bank account at Bank of America. They are, after all, Bank of America. Just a few short years ago Bank of America was touting its “higher standards,” was growing rapidly and seemed certain of an entrenched position among America’s leading companies. Until the company wasn’t. Today, it seems the company has a lot of work to do if it wants to be seen as more than just a profit monger….

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April 3, 2014 | dlauer | Tagged

Why The Right Brushstroke Can Make All The Difference In Target’s Recovery

John F. Kennedy once likened the duality of a crisis to the two brushstrokes used to form the Chinese word: “One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity.” Target has continually been in the hot seat since announcing one of the most impactful consumer data breaches on record. Closing on the 100 day mark, reverberations from Main Street to Wall Street are still being felt, punctuated by record low customer traffic numbers and a drastic drop in the stock. Given that the company chose to ignore a “suspicious activity” system warning after hackers infiltrated, its reputation – arguably its most coveted corporate asset – is suffering. With the worst behind it, the good news for Target is all signs point to its commitment to recovery. The company’s leadership has taken many critical steps that are enabling them to begin restoring trust in the brand. To date, it has accelerated its $100 million plan to roll out chip-based credit card technology and built more secure walls between its network and added more “two-factor” authentication protocols. It has made the move to clean house and take names (including its…

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April 2, 2014 | lmahler | Tagged ,

Grading Mary Barra – How the New General Motors CEO Performed before Congress

Anyone who follows the political comings and goings of Capitol Hill knows that congressional hearings around hot-button issues are often tense, difficult moments for those called to testify. Such events attract widespread media scrutiny and can be a make-or-break moment for corporate leaders. It’s not just the corporation’s reputation on the line; it’s the CEO’s personal brand at stake. We’re seeing this dynamic play out this week in the case of General Motors (GM), which has recalled 2.6 million vehicles over safety issues that led to a documented 13 deaths. Recently uncovered documents indicate that GM employees knew of the defects years ago and chose not to fix them, citing cost concerns. It is against this backdrop that new GM CEO Mary Barra appeared before Congress this week. Here, we take a look at the strongest and weakest parts of her performance: Issuing an Apology: A+ When your company has done harm to its customers, the first step is to issue an apology – preferably before you’re asked for one. In this case, Barra started her testimony with a heartfelt “I am deeply sorry.” This acknowledges to your stakeholders that you are aware of your organization’s shortcomings. Showing Compassion to…

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April 2, 2014 | cwinters | Tagged ,

Reputation Bracketology: JCPenney vs. Toyota

JCPenney: I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. It’s hard not to root for JCPenney. They are another company we’ve been watching for years here at ROR. Mike Ullman is a veteran of retail turnarounds, and he’s fixed JCPenney once before. He is bringing back the proven game day strategies of private label brands and promotions to drive customer traffic. Reliable moves like closing unprofitable stores, and doubling down on key categories like home goods should serve JC Penney well. Ullman also knows how to establish benchmarks and communicate progress in a turnaround – he’s outlined a plan that stakeholders can understand and support –and he is delivering against that plan. Toyota: If JPMorgan Chase is peaking at the right time, Toyota is doing the opposite. We’ve been following Toyota’s woes here on ROR for a few years now, and despite some valiant efforts to focus on safety, such as the launch of its new Collaborative Safety Project, Toyota is announcing recalls almost as frequently as retailers report same store sales. The recent Lexus recall, combined with the $1.2 billion dollar settlement makes the company an underdog in this tournament. Winner: JCPenney. Because great coaches win big…

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April 1, 2014 | cwinters | Tagged ,

Reputation Bracketology: JPMorgan Chase vs. Carnival Cruise Lines

Continuing in our matchups for Reputation Bracketology, today’s pair: JPMorgan Chase vs. Carnival Cruise Lines – both companies on the reputation bubble. JPMorgan Chase: JPMorgan Chase is scrappy. Most people would count out any company that paid a $13 billion fine to the Department of Justice. But this is a situation where the “strength of schedule” matters – and since financial institutions are among the most hated, least trusted organizations on the planet, being less hated than Bank of America may help JPMorgan Chase pull out a win. The company’s game strategy is transparency and accountability – owning its problems and defining the path forward. However, as executive pay continues to dominate discussion, Jamie Dimon’s 74 percent pay raise could plague the company if they advance to the further rounds. Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival Cruise Lines is like the Rocky of Reputation Bracketology. The company keeps taking punches, but keeps getting back up. A weak “conference” with everything from fires on board, to widespread illness to passengers falling overboard on cruise liners keeps Carnival on its heels. However, it has managed to work towards winning back customers without massive reductions in price – so I wouldn’t count them out just…

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April 1, 2014 | cwinters | Tagged

Malaysia Airlines Nails the Crisis Communications Checklist but Falls Short on Execution

There is a reason that an effective aviation accident response is considered the pinnacle of crisis management – accidents occur suddenly and without warning. They are massive in scale – both in terms of the physical scene, and the potential to cause a very significant loss of life. And they are followed by a who-dunnit style investigation where every move is scrutinized. Add in episodes of completely tone deaf responses – from the infamous text messages from Malaysia Airlines to Thai Airways’ painting over its logo on the tail of the aircraft last year, and you’ve got a documentary-style drama better than anything on TV. Unfortunately, these events play out quickly and in a very public way, providing fertile ground for others to learn from the inevitable missteps that come in such high-stake, high-pressure situations. The recent tragedy surrounding the disappearance of Malaysia Air Flight 370 provides ample “lessons learned” for crisis response, many of which also apply across other industries. This is a case where the airline seemingly fulfilled the crisis plan’s checklist – it had a microsite up quickly and pulled all of its promotional content (both in terms of advertising and use of its social channels). The…

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March 31, 2014 | cwinters | Tagged ,

Reputation Bracketology: Target vs. SeaWorld

This year’s NCAA tournament has had some significant bracket busting upsets. If you are out of the office pool, fear not – the MWW Reputation Bracketology might be a nice diversion from feeling out of the office excitement. Let’s take a look at our first matchup: Target vs. SeaWorld. Target: Some have argued that despite posting a video message and letter to customers immediately after the data breach heard round the world, CEO Gregg Steinhafel has done little since then to keep customers informed. Moreover, while Target “benched” a starter with the resignation of its CIO, other critics say the move was three months too late. In spite of these critiques, Target remains a perennial favorite and a strong contender coming into this matchup with the top seed. It has managed to weather the storm with its stock price holding up, and it has been assertive and effective in its response with free credit reports for customers and sending its CFO to testify in Washington. The company is also accelerating its $100 million investment in chip-based credit card technology – leaning in to a negative situation and creating a leadership opportunity. SeaWorld: This is a situation where the clock could…

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March 28, 2014 | cwinters | Tagged , , , , , , ,

MWW Reputation Bracketology: Scorecard of Corporate Reputation Madness

It’s that time of year again where March Madness has replaced Mad Men as the big topic at the office coffee machine. Analysis of bench depth, strength of schedule, and of course…the bracket-busting upsets. Imagine if we could apply the same kind of bracketology to the notion of corporate reputation. After all, companies are fighting for relevance – in both mind share and market share – every day. MWW’s Reputation Bracketology will look at companies who have been tackling the most severe challenges to their reputation. Currently, industries like retail, hospitality and entertainment, automotive, and financial services are facing the highest level of risk among those with reputation failures over the past year. We’ll consider a variety of factors that put a company’s reputation at risk – which should all be top of mind for the CEO and the C-suite team. Our scorecard will look at the extent that the public’s perception influenced their decisions and actions. By how much did the company lose its key stakeholders’ trust, and how did that manifest in negative ramifications for the company? This manifestation of a lack of trust could be a plummeting stock price, a loss of market share, a disengaged consumer…

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March 20, 2014 | cwinters | Tagged , ,

How Social Media is Elevating Airline Crisis Communication

At MWW we say that 60 seconds is the new first hour (the traditional window for a company to respond to a crisis). Here is a great piece about social media and how it is changing crisis communications in the aviation industry, where the stakes are high, and the room for error is minimal.  

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March 19, 2014 | jzeitz | Tagged , ,

Wonks Beware

We’ve been following with more than passing interest the recent controversy concerning a letter signed by over 500 leading economists, in opposition to a $10.10 minimum wage. Essentially a response to an earlier letter signed by over 600 economists in support of a wage hike, the recent circular raises perfectly legitimate questions that any college student should expect to encounter in a macro-economics class: is a higher minimum wage the most effective means of raising people above the poverty line, or does it have the opposite effect of encouraging employers to eliminate jobs and raise prices – two unintended consequences that might bear down hardest on people living in poverty? Indeed, many progressive economists contend that the minimum wage is a less effective means of fighting poverty than more redistributive measures like the Earned Income Tax Credit. Surely that’s what many of the 500+ economists had in mind when they wrote that poverty is a “complex issue that demands a comprehensive and thoughtful solution that targets those Americans actually in need.” So why the controversy? Because it turns out that the opposition letter originated with the National Restaurant Association, and many if not most signatories – including Vernon Smith, a…

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