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 AIG launches post-crisis reputation improvement PR campaign

Once the symbol for greed and excessive risk-taking, the American International Group (AIG) recently launched a campaign to repair its reputation. A video posted by AIG showcased the company's efforts to restructure and pay back the US government for the largest bailout during the 2008 financial crisis. AIG has now paid back the Federal Reserve and posted two consecutive years of profit for shareholders. Although that may not be the transformation that stakeholders were hoping for, it is clear that AIG believes it deserves a second chance.  

"Companies that want to restore and enhance their reputation need to make a thorough analysis and an admission of what went wrong and what they are doing to change the business habits that caused the reputation damage in the first place," advised Christophe Liedtke, VP Global Media Relations, SAP.  

A speaker at the upcoming marcus evans Strategic Corporate PR Conference, Liedtke continued: "Companies facing such reputation challenges have to be open and transparent about what went wrong and how they are putting things right. In most cases reputation damage has internal and external root causes, such as bad business conduct, compliance issues, negative business developments or market conditions. To strengthen reputation management, there must be strong business conduct guidelines and compliance rules as well as a corporate culture of openness, accountability and transparency."  

When it is evident that not all is right, organisations can limit the damage on their reputation by acting fast and communicating clearly. If rumours and critical information are already leaked externally and corporate communications can only be reactive, it will take it longer to repair the damage, Liedtke said.  

"The speed and professionalism with which communication crises are handled is crucial to limiting the impact on a company's reputation. Companies today need a proactive reputation management, to help minimise risks and restore reputation when needed."

To build a strong positive reputation, it is important to find good thought leadership topics and social engagement that can be tied to the business, instead of just launching stand-alone CRM activities. Such integrated initiatives are much more credible and effective, Liedtke concluded.  

The marcus evans Strategic Corporate PR Conference will take place 25-26 September 2012, at the Media Rotana Dubai, United Arab Emirates. For more information, please visit the event website

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