Reputation risk is one of the key factors to an organization’s long-term success. We’ve seen tech companies like Uber, WeWork, and others take reputation hits that affected the bottom line. All it takes is one wrong move to destroy a reputation — and it can take years to gain back that trust. It’s easy to find lists of motivational speakers, but it’s harder to find specific experts in areas like reputation risk.
The damage can come at any time from virtually anywhere: an angry employee with an agenda, a security breach that wasn’t handled properly. Before your organization gets in trouble, understand and prepare for the risks to its reputation.
To spot and manage the reputation risks facing your organization, these are seven of the best resources to catch speaking:
For more than two decades, Anthony Johndrow has advised enterprises on reputation management. To describe how closely financial performance and consumer perceptions are tied to one another, he coined the term “reputation economy.” Consumers care more about what organizations stand for than they used to, Johndrow warns, and they vote with their wallets.
Johndrow is regularly interviewed by media outlets, including The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. He’s also the creator of the Public Relations Society of America’s reputation risk certificate program. Equally comfortable with TED-style talks and intimate chats, Johndrow is an entertaining pick for industries ranging from consumer packaged goods to technology.
2. Dave Stangis
Before becoming an entrepreneur and speaker, Dave Stangis led reputation management programs at Campbell’s and Intel. With an emphasis in corporate social responsibility, Stangis suggests community initiatives to improve investor relations, company pride, and employee engagement.
Now the founder and CEO of 21C Impact, Stangis advises corporations on public policy, sustainability, social impact, transparency, and disclosure. In conjunction with Katherine Smith, executive director at Boston College’s Center for Corporate Citizenship, Stangis wrote “21st Century Corporate Citizenship.” Stangis is a great choice for companies that care about sustainability and its ties to the environment.
3. Bill Wohl
Having headed communication teams at SAP, Hewlett-Packard, and United Rentals, Bill Wohl has a broad background in reputation management. Wohl has also worked as a press relations expert for the Delaware governor’s office, making him a great option for public organizations interested in reducing their reputation risks.
What areas of reputation management does Wohl specialize in? Message development, crisis communications, executive counsel, social media, and employee communications are all within his wheelhouse.
4. John Eltham
Few industries are more familiar with risk management than insurance. For nearly 22 years, John Eltham has served as head of commercial strategy and performance at Miller Insurance Services. As executive director at Aon, Eltham managed political risks like trade disruption and offshore energy development.
Based in London, Eltham is a smart choice for British and European firms worried about reputation management in the Brexit era. Having held senior roles at the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, as well as Lloyd’s, Eltham is especially knowledgeable about risks associated with banking and international trade.
As chief reputation strategist at one of the world’s leading PR firms, Weber Shandwick, Leslie Gaines-Ross is an expert in how CEOs should handle their first 100 days. Specializing in executive reputation repair, Gaines-Ross is a great choice for firms with new or embattled leaders.
One element of Gaines-Ross’ work that makes her a compelling speaker is her focus on research. At Weber Shandwick, she’s led initiatives around artificial intelligence, employee activism, employment branding, civility in America, and gender equality at the C-suite level. An increasingly hot area, corporate and CEO activism are also among her specialties.
6. Peter Horst
A multi-industry marketing executive who specializes in brand management, Peter Horst is the founder of CMO Inc. Horst authored “Marketing in the #FakeNews Era,” which lays out a set of rules for reaching audiences in tribalistic, distrustful, and activism-driven economic environments. Horst also serves as an advisor at Reputation Economy Advisors.
Having once worked as CMO at The Hershey Company, Horst is a smart pick for CPG and retail companies. He’s also served as CMO at TD Ameritrade and senior VP of brand marketing at Capital One, making him a knowledgeable speaker about finance-related reputation risks.
A professor of strategic communication at Boston University, Mike Fernandez also serves as CEO of Spain-based reputation management consultancy LLYC’s U.S. arm. Prior to that, he created Pensar Strategies, a strategic communications firm that manages corporate and political reputation risks. His strengths lie in environmental sustainability, civic conflict, natural disaster response, national product recall, and labor relations.
Equally at home in corporate, political, and academic environments, Fernandez has held C-level roles at enterprises ranging from Cargill to State Farm to Cigna. He’s won a range of awards for his work, including the Pioneer Award, the Alexander Hamilton Award, and an induction into the PR Hall of Fame.
Don’t let your reputation get burned. No matter the risks to your organization’s reputation, the speakers on this list can help you handle them.
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