While a company may gloat or grouse about its ranking, the truth is that the list itself is meaningless. More important are the behaviors and actions that earn a company its place.
Take a recent example from 24/7 Wall Street, which compiled the top 10 most hated companies in America. Read through the rationale for each firm’s result, and you’ll find consistent themes:
- Poor external interactions, particularly customer service
- Short-sighted business decisions
· Lack of respect for employees
Yes, these shortcomings ought to give pause to any company. We can hope those on the “naughty” list will take such failures to heart and rebuild their reputations through meaningful change.
But from a PR perspective, companies who see the “nice” lists as an end unto themselves are equally misguided. Earning a “best-of” spot ought to be the result of consistent quality, integrity, performance and respect, not because certain statistics can be assembled to check off the right boxes. And if the motivation is about the list, not about doing the right thing, the truth invariably emerges.
Few things are as damaging to a business’ reputation as touting a place on the “nice” list while operating in a disreputable fashion. Any PR benefit from the placement quickly rings hollow, the company comes off as insincere, and the downward reputational spiral continues.
My hope is that public relations professionals will serve as the counsel of truth and reason when it comes to these lists. Celebrate what is truly earned, own up to the shortcomings, and find ways to let the positive actions of the company speak volumes.