Character acts as real determinant of reputation

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I’ve just joined the business blogging roster at Melbourne’s daily broadsheet The Age. My latest post takes a real life look at what happens when ad ‘extras’ turn a TV campaign into a media-wide PR disaster. Love to hear your views.

Down here in Australia, a couple of TV ads have created PR disasters for the clients placing them and, I’ll guess, little PR headaches for the Comms agencies that commissioned them. But in an increasingly transparent media environment, the embarrassing truth is out there, and it’s getting much easier to find, too.

Some people think that PR and reputation management is just for celebs, corporations and governments. But in the increasingly transparent Web era it’s fast becoming a personal imperative, too. For instance, recent revelations show that two of the three ‘thug’ actors appearing in the pro-Workchoices TV advert actually have actual criminal ‘form’. While the ‘boss’ in a previous pro-Workchoice reform ad was found to have been an abusive employer in real life. (He’s just been fined $7000 for his personal business affairs). These ‘true life’ character revelations can have a huge impact not just on your own reputation, but on the reputation of any of your business associates. Take the ‘thugs’ example where the disclosures have impacted on the reputations of all concerned;
The ‘actors/extras’ have now had their true character outed, and that will likely impact their future acting employability.
The ad agency will have certainly felt heat from their political paymasters when these stories emerged (because the actors character flaws largely eclipsed the message and intent of the ads).
The red-faced ad agency will have roasted the production company.
And they’ll maybe think twice about the professionalism of their casting agent.
Of course, a little bit of PR intelligence at the Ad concept stage might have suggested character checks on the actors just to keep the proceedings squeaky clean. But whether it’s at the campaign’s start, or to firefight the negative furore that arises, PR always has a role to play in the management of reputations.

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