Sun Tzu and reputation management
I spent the last weekend trying to extinguish a fire for a new client. (We usually refuse to jump into comms crisis mode if the client isn’t already working with us, because PR fire management is rarely productive. For the client or for us. But I made an exception because we had worked together in the past.)
Sun Tzu, THE military strategist who lived over 2500 years ago, wrote about the importance of preparation in his famous book, The Art of War. Sun Tzu believed that “the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” This principle holds true for reputation management. Preparing for a crisis before it happens can prevent the crisis from occurring or, if the crisis does occur, can help companies navigate through it more effectively.
Sun Tzu also emphasized the importance of understanding the strengths and weaknesses of both oneself and one’s competitors. In the context of reputation management, this means that companies must be aware of their vulnerabilities and must be prepared to address them proactively. This could, for example, involve addressing proactively potential legal or regulatory issues that could negatively impact the company’s reputation.
In my experience, the principles espoused by Sun Tzu in The Art of War are just as relevant today. By taking a proactive approach to reputation management, based on scientific and proven steps, and preparing for a crisis that may never come, companies and leadership teams can safeguard their reputations and ensure that they are well-positioned to weather most storms that may come their way.