Brands make you relevant while reputation makes you credible

An article in the Australian Financial Review (2 September 2019) stated that brand and people drive business.  I couldn’t agree more. 

It is people who are responsible for an organisation’s reputation, while effective branding creates a good impression.

Both brand and reputation are intangible; neither have a physical presence.  Over the past four decades the value of intangible assets has risen from 17% to 84% (40 year break down of the S&P 500).

Brand is about stakeholder perceptions that can be influenced by a strong marketing spend, but a reputation takes time to build and can be trashed by a single poorly managed incident or a systemic unsatisfactory behaviour.

I read some time ago in Africa’s Mail & Guardian that while branding can make you relevant, reputation makes you credible.

More than a decade ago, an article published in MIT Sloan Management Review stated that many executives talked about corporate reputation and brand as if they were one and the same. They are not; and, confusing the two can lead to costly mistakes.

The MIT article states: “Focusing on reputation at the expense of brand can lead to product offerings that languish in the market. On the other hand, concentrating on brand and neglecting reputation can be equally dangerous, resulting in a lower stock price, difficulties in attracting top talent and even product boycotts.”

The banks in Australia are only too aware of this.  All of them are spending big on marketing.  According to Ad News, the finance and insurance industries spent a combined $772 million on advertising between July 2018 and the end of June 2019, making them the second biggest spenders behind retail.

In the 2019 Australian Corporate Reputation Index of 60 Australian companies and organisations, financial institutions (including the big four banks) filled five of the bottom 10 spots.

This data strongly suggests that while branding can make an organisation relevant, it is only actions that can make it credible.

Brands cannot spend their way to a good reputation.  They have to work to earn a good reputation and then work harder to keep it. 

Reputation management comes from researching and understanding community standards and applying (and being seen to apply) these standards to business operations.

Douglas Wright
Can’t Top This

Samuel’s Wish

In the world of PR, there are many opportunities that come your way. Some are exciting, some are challenging but all are rewarding. So, when Wrights was asked to help out at Samuel’s wish from Make-A-Wish Australia, we jumped at the chance.

Sam, who had recently turned 18 and has cerebral palsy and low vision, loves all things tool related and his favourite TV show is Better Homes and Gardens. Naturally, his wish was to spend the day with builder Adam and landscaper Jason designing and creating something for his garden. The Better Homes and Gardens team went above and beyond spending three days with Sam transforming his garden and man-cave to make it an exciting space for Sam and his family. There were buzz saws, drills and even an excavator. 

Wrights, never afraid of getting messy, jetted out to Brisbane and got stuck into the gardening and painting, with professional supervision of course. The three days were full of laughs, warm feelings and pride as we worked as a team to give Sam the wish he so deserved. The biggest reward was easily seeing the smile and excitement in Sam, that feeling is something you can’t buy. See more of Sam’s wish experience at  

Traveling for work isn’t easy. Flights, running from one location to another, coordinating projects and trying to stay on top of your emails can have you feeling overwhelmed. Our top tips are to make sure to eat well, stay hydrated and set expectations. Let everyone know where you are, your availability and whether you’ll be contactable or not. Most importantly, use your colleagues and trust that they have your back.


Here is what we did:

Day 1

-        Met with the production team to run through the plan for the 3 days

-        Filmed the big surprise with Adam and Jason meeting Sam

-        Half of the crew split off and went on a shopping spree at Bunnings with Sam

-        The other half of the crew stayed at Sam’s house to get the hard work started!

Day 2

-        Filmed segments with Jason and Sam on the digger and paving

-        Filmed segments with Adam drilling and sawing wood for Sam’s new work bench

Day 3

-        Filmed segments with Jason and Sam planting

-        Filmed segments with Adam and Jason in his man-cave building storage and finishing off his work bench

-        Finally, the big reveal was filmed with a BBQ celebration for all of Sam’s family and the crew

Douglas Wright
Was connectivity the greatest achievement of the 20th Century?

The moon landing was the most watched television event of the 20th century. That’s the claim and it’s hard not to believe it. Most people who were around at the time, in July 1969 and had access to a television set can still tell you what they saw and where they watched it.

There was no social media back then. Just cinema, television, radio and print. But the message was out there that a man had walked on the moon and the excitement was ubiquitous. On one of the documentaries I watched celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, one celebrity claimed that it was the most monumental event of the 20th century. That got me thinking.

It certainly was big. It was the first-time man had walked on a solid object that was not earth. But it happened in the same century as a human first flew in a powered machine. Surely that was momentous, just not witnessed by as many people.

After that first manned powered flight by the Wright Brothers in 1903, it was just 66 years to the successful manned landing on the moon. Which had the bigger impact on society? It is claimed that today there are more than 16,000 planes in the air at any one time. (Travelweek Online 2017.)

The 20th century also delivered plenty of conflict and many exciting scientific discoveries. Nuclear weapons, with the power to obliterate the planet were designed and built. (The United Nations claims there are 14,500 nukes in the world today). Countries were created and borders redrawn in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

In communications, television and the Internet were born (to support the invention of radio and telephony in the previous century) and connectivity boomed; it became a major global industry.

I think this was probably the most amazing achievement in the 20th Century. This enhanced connectivity enabled globalisation, international collaborations and the opportunity to explore beyond Earth.

Douglas Wright
Public Relations as Corporate Conscience

(Originally posted Nov 22, 2018)

When Wrights was established some 30 years ago, it was understood that although the consultancy was a small business it would approach challenges with a sound, big business mentality. The guiding reference work at the time was Michael Gerber’s E-Myth (subsequently revised).

Wrights implemented key processes outlined in Gerber’s book, but also set guidelines that ensured a robust corporate culture and a powerful client list.

The first house rule was to work only for clients who were the best or wanted to be the best in their field. Not the biggest or the most profitable, but the best.

And the best meant companies and people with whom you would be proud to be associated. Being recognised by these clients as a corporate conscience, providing counsel respectful of but separate from lawyers and accountants was a must.

Managing its own reputation and building the Wrights’ brand was as important as delivering similar outcomes for the firm’s clients. It was vital that the firm was - and was seen to be - a indispensable adviser, helping to protect valuable but intangible assets, such as brand equity and corporate reputation.

Prior to the proliferation of social media and its ability to draw attention to corporate behaviour, public relations tended to disguise its role, preferring to work in the background.

That was never Wrights’ style. The firm has been fearless in providing considered communication counsel, so access to the C-suite was always a given in all professional relationships.

Therefore, Wrights has maintained its independence. Many other successful PR firms have succumbed to takeovers by international advertising conglomerates robbing them of their objectivity.

Now, the independent PR industry faces new challenges from professional services firms moving onto their turf, potentially blurring the line between providing counsel on what is the right thing to do or simply acting to benefit specific stakeholders.

Companies who are the best or want to be the best understand this and regard seeking independent public relations counsel, separate from legal and financial advice, as good business practice.

Douglas Wright