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March 15, 2007


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With all of the focus now on corporate social responsibility and ethical interaction with the public, it seems that any organization without a CRO and a strong PR department should seriously consider closing shop. I agree that too much emphasis has been placed on removing the pejorative from the PR label in trying to become a "community of communicators." If the overriding task of a PR department is to be the ethical thermometer in any organization, then why not call us what we are; Public Relations?

On a slightly different note...Chief Reputation Officer has a slight...facist / propagandist flavor to it. We might want to consider a "softer" name. Perhaps Chief Ethics Officer, or Chief Responsibility Officer, or Chief Ethics and Responsibility Officer (add another letter to underscore the importance). I'm going to have to think on this one a bit more.

Thanks Jon - I agree absolutely. Maybe seeing themselves in this strategic way will also encourage PR practitioners to see the CEO function as part of their career path.

Interesting points, Heather and Hsu. Yes, the CRO is the focal point, the advocate for reputation, but ideally the whole organization comes to understand the importance of reputation enhancement and this understanding is evident in all their decisions. Reputation should be a key consideration in every executive's performance objectives. It is no different, really, than money management. Every organization in the company, and every manager in each of those organizations, needs to understand the importance of managing their financial performance (meeting their budgets, helping to drive revenue, etc.) - but the company still needs a Finance organization and a Chief Financial Officer to champion financial performance throughout the company. So it is with reputation -- the company needs a Public Relations staff and a Chief Reputation Officer to champion reputational performance while leading efforts to instill reputational responsibility throughout the company.

About idea of the Chief Reputation Officer, I have a question: If every department of the department can work well and ethically, the organization will gain reputation spontaneously. If so, does an organization still need Chief Reputation Officer? As the former comment mentioned, PR cannot possibly manage reputation alone or at a low level within an organization.
Moreover, I am wondering how we should define the relationship between PR and Chief Reputation Officer. The hierarchy -- will public relations belong to the reputation department or the reputation management is a part of public relations or they are the same thing, Chief Reputation Officer just a new noun?

Fascinating - and I believe you are right about the Chief Reputation Officer. However, that has to be the level of reputation management. PR cannot possibly manage reputation alone or at a low level within an organisation. The potential of others to cause a crisis means that unless PR is able to advise before problems occur, it will forever be sweeping up - and that isn't reputation management in the pro-active sense that I think you're suggesting.

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