From Enron and WorldCom to the Catholic Church and Major League Baseball, reputation crises have never been more widespread. Now Ronald J. Alsop, a veteran Wall Street Journalauthority on branding and reputation management, explains the dangers -- and gives organizations the eighteen crucial laws to follow in developing and protecting their reputations. Consider this example of a simple decision made by a low-ranking employee: When rescue workers at the site of the World Trade Center disaster sought bottled water from a nearby Starbucks outlet, they complained that an employee charged them for it. In a matter of hours, the Internet had picked up the story and Starbucks' carefully cultivated worldwide reputation was quickly besmirched.
This is just one instance among many of how the business world, ever more global and competitive, has become increasingly difficult to navigate. Studies have demonstrated the powerful impact of reputation on profits and stock prices, and yet less than half of all companies have a formal system for measuring reputation. Clearly, companies in every industry -- from Dow Chemical to Disney to DaimlerChrystler -- have much more to learn.