My, oh my. Richard Scrushy just won’t leave well enough alone, will he? Following on the heels of his surprising acquital by a hometown jury, Scrushy is now threatening legal action against Healthsouth to get his old job back. I’m sure the Healthsouth board wants Scrushy back about as much as the Mets would like to have the horrific Mo Vaughn in the starting line-up again. For Healthsouth, Scrushy’s Phoenix-like rise from the ashheap of corporate malfeasance is a reputation nightmare. Trying to distance themselves from all of his alleged wrongdoings, Healthsouth has to be struggling to convince remaining customers that they’ll stay focused on the business of their business. So, what do you do if you’re Healthsouth? Figure out a way to buy Scrushy out ASAP. You do not want to fight him in a protracted court case. While Healthsouth might win the legal battle, they’ll lose in the court of public opinion (or in this case, the court of customer opinion). Customers will only put up with so much distraction. Healthsouth needs to put Scrushy behind them pronto. Or their business will be heading south….permanently.
Tomorrow’s annual All-Star game provides a perfect time for Major League Baseball to take a seventh inning stretch to reflect on its significant image problem by announcing rock-solid strategies for re-claiming its reputation.
I suggest that MLB embark on a significant grass roots campaign aimed at tomorrow’s major leaguers. Former and current ballplayers should participate in a national education campaign aimed at young people that decries the use and abuse of steroids. What better way for a person like Mark McGwire to try and turn around his image than by admitting fault and imploring kids not to follow in his path? I’d call the campaign "strike out steroids," announce it at the All-Star game and introduce it nationwide next Spring.
It’s time for baseball to wake up and pull this one out in the bottom of the ninth.
From Enron and The Iraqi War to Jason Giambi and Catholic priests, it seems the very pillars of society have been turned upside down. With each new outrage, there seem to be fewer and fewer shining lights of hope. Fewer true icons who hold themselves and their organizations accountable and zealously protect their reputations.
As an experienced public relations practitioner, I know it can take years to build and millions of marketing dollars to nurture a reputation. But that very same reputation can be destroyed in a nanosecond by irresponsible behavior.
How about Bernie Ebbers at Global Crossing, Trent Lott and his speech about Strom Thurmond’s segregationist ways, Michael Jackson’s bizarre bedroom behavior, Barry Bonds refusal to admit he’s been taking steroids for years….the list is almost endless.
Each day, I’ll take a look at the one of the pillars of society: business, sports, government, entertainment and religion and give my thoughts and recommendations on a breaking news item concerning an individual or institution whose reputation is being threatened by real or imagined misdeeds.
The reputation of an individual or an institution is priceless. Let’s discuss why so many "pillars" are allowing their actions to undermine their reputation.