The power of association: Protecting your reputation when partners go astray

by | Sep 29, 2015 | Public Relations

In the midst of the Volkswagen scandal—in which VW was caught installing software on diesel cars that allowed them to trick U.S. emissions tests—companies are reportedly putting the brakes on potential partnership deals with the automaker.

Rumors have been circulating that Redbull and VW were negotiating to make VW the supplier of Formula 1’s “power units” and acquire Red Bull Racing, with Red Bull taking a sponsorship role. But in light of recent events, Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner has admitted to NBC that any deal “seemed to go up in smoke.”

Does this story sound familiar? If so, it’s probably because we’ve seen countless companies sever ties and even be forced to apologize on their partner’s behalf after a media or customer SNAFU. These cases are just further proof that in today’s world, the public doesn’t see a distinction between a company’s values and those of its affiliates.

Because of this, at MediaMiser, businesses with large supply chains or big contracts in the works often ask us to vet current or potential partners for red flags.

Sifting through archives of news coverage allows us to connect the dots on issues that may otherwise go unnoticed. And we’ve unearthed some critical pieces of information through this process: earlier this year, we discovered a vice-president of a potential contract winner was in the thick of a domestic abuse scandal and being replaced.

Another contract bidder was headed to court for fraudulently securing public contracts and diverting millions through sham companies.

Still another supplier had its fair share of press mentions, too—for charitable work in the community. Needless to say, unlike the first two, this firm wasn’t red-flagged as a potential risk based on its media content.

Companies work hard to cultivate a positive reputation. So being associated with another’s damaging press is at best a costly headache, and at worst an existential threat. So are you allied with the “good guys”? The tough part is, you don’t always know. After years of working with a particular partner or client, unsavoury details about them may suddenly begin to trickle down into the headlines—and if they’re a major partner or supplier, it doesn’t take long to get yourself roped into the narrative.

MediaMiser’s reputation reviews and company case studies can help a company’s risk management team pinpoint weaknesses in its supply chain, or identify shortcomings in potential partners or bid winners, via an in-depth scan of media content. It’s one of the easiest ways to take the guesswork out of your partnerships and protect your brand.

For more info on our media monitoring process, check out our recent case study.

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Hartley Butler George


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