Is There A Relation Between the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and Your Corporate Reputation? You bet!

It seems like it was only yesterday that Exxon Valdez spilled thousands and thousands of barrels of crude oil into Prince William Sound. But the truth is that all of this happened way back in 1989.  25 years have passed, but it’s not like this incident is not fresh in our minds. It is, more so because of what it did to Exxon’s corporate reputation. It did some extensive damage – for those of you who remember, the company was criticised by one and all. Rumour has it that even their stock prices took a deep plunge.Why do you think this happened?

Yes, everybody did talk about how Exxon failed to maintain the RAYCAS radar or how it was the third mate’s fault, but if you look at it now, more than anything, it was the company’s slow response (after the incident) that drew fire. Wait a minute – slow response? Could it have actually brought the company under attack? You don’t say! Worse, it still can.  So does that mean you are at risk too? Unfortunately, you are! The only difference is that Exxon probably did not have website reputation to protect back then, but you do.

What Does It Have To Do With You?

Well, you may not be responsible for an environmental disaster, but then, you need not cause one for your reputation to go up in flames, especially online. A negative review from some disgruntled employee you fired last month or a comment from that customer who wrote you 10 different e-mails, but not once got a reply (and finally when he did, it was too late) – anything can drive your corporate reputation to a point, where you may lose more than what Exxon ever had at stake (of course, not in terms of money!).

The least you could have done is to respond to that customer when he first wrote to you, or may be the second time, but 10 e-mails? Who are you kidding? And what about that negative review? You thought it was okay to have one? Guess what – sometimes, one negative review is all it takes to bring you down.

What Can You Do About It Now?

Damage Control – that’s what can save you now, or let’s put it this way, save you from paying the price of whatever you did, with 60% of your market value. If only Exxon would have thought of it. At least you should! That said, what you can do is actively engage in online reputation management and probably hire someone, if you have no clue how to go about it. Wondering, what they can do?

  • For starters, they can respond, and of course, in a proper manner, without making the matters worse – no eye for an eye here – well, that employee of yours may have abused you online, but then, you really can’t do the same. Someone who knows ORM wouldn’t.
  • Also, they can try and pacify the customer and maybe even apologise for the delay, the delay in responding that is.What If There Is No Negativity?

What If There Is No Negativity?

As if Exxon would have thought there would be an oil spill, but it did happen, right? You can never be sure and so you have to be proactive. Anyone may get up one day and sabotage your website reputation, changing people’s perception of you, just like that. What would you do then? Better get an ORM agency to work for you now than be sorry later. If no damage has been done yet, they can always create a couple of positive assets that they can get to feature among the top results, encourage your satisfied customers to write reviews and do anything and everything to make you look great (assuming people already think you are “good”), online.

What Happens Online Stays Online?

You wish. This is no Vegas, if you know what that means. Any bad publicity online can always affect your reputation off the Internet. Don’t be under the impression that when someone assesses your corporate reputation, all they are going to consider is your market competitiveness or how financially sound you are. It’s the information age that we are living in – you may think what you do online is nobody’s business, but it is. For that matter, your key stakeholders may demand an explanation – so, what do you plan to tell your suppliers, customers and even your employees? That you didn’t see it coming?

What’s In It for You?

If not for anything else, others’ perception of you should matter to you for the sake of reputation capital – and you know what they say about this one – the higher, the better. Also, a positive reputation (both online and offline) has outcomes that you wouldn’t want to miss out on. Take commitment and cooperation for example; if the stakeholders think highly of you, you don’t really have to earn these two; they come to you on their own.

The best part is that if you have plans to launch new products anytime soon or maybe enter a market that you currently don’t cater to, you can transfer your reputation there and use it, not as bait of course, but to gain acceptance.

What If You Give It A Miss?

The Exxon Spill took place in the last century, but one gets to hear about it even today, right? Who knows the company may still be dealing with the repercussions. That being said, even if you are no Exxon, you may have to wait for some time, maybe even 3.5 years, before fully recovering from a blow and becoming reputable again. So, it makes sense to start right now. What you can is find an agency that maybe speeds up the process, helping you move faster on the road to recovery. And don’t think that if you are doing “good”, on the reputation front that is, you can be “great” in no time. NO! There’s a long way to go.

What Else Establishes The Need for Reputation Management?

When MORI, one of Britain’s leading survey companies, asked nearly 200 managers, if it is important that corporate reputation be taken care of, do you know what kind of responses did they get? Check out for yourself:


But, stats are not enough, are they? You need to have your own reasons. What about your stock prices in the financial market then? Others’ perception of you can have a direct influence in this case. And how can one not talk about the epistemic decisions made by, say, your target audience? You get the drift, right?

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