Patrick Skarr, Vice President


Commercials typically reserved for the Sunday morning punditry circuit have begun to air during prime time and sporting events. The nexus between business objectives and brands is easy to see given the audience watching Meet the Press. Less clear was why these recruiting commercials would air during expensive, primetime, and broad demographic spread.

A recent guest column in Fast Company, Why These 4 Companies Are Getting Serious About Their Employer Brands,” posited an answer; that companies are finding company culture can influence shopping behavior.

Aside from the free lattes and Ping-Pong hang outs, an organization’s culture and the perception of what a company stands for, makes a difference in attracting top talent. Having the best employees leads to better products, better products results in more customers, more customers result in more profits, more profits lead to more commercials about lots of things. The cycle repeats.

Last September, GE released a commercial entitled “Zazzies” that explores what the company wants in its employees. The company is recasting itself as a digital industrial company. They are reaching out to pesky millennials to let them know GE, is just as cool as those other companies.

Brands and reputations take years, generations or even a lifetime to build. In the case of GE or other legacy industrial titans, it will take a significant effort to saturate the thinking of younger workers they need to remain a digital pioneer. 

This is an example of proactive campaign management, driven by business objectives. The best way to manage your company’s reputation is to tell people what you want them to think about you.

Often, companies miss out on the opportunity to build a reservoir of goodwill and reputational capital. There isn’t a strategy in place, like GE’s, to reinforce who you are and what you do day in and day out. After all, there is profit and business to be conducted. But, in times of a crisis or challenge, there is no better ally than the reputation and supporters you already have.

The Wounded Warrior Project recently found themselves under media scrutiny by CBS News, for the spending habits of top executives. The group had grown rapidly based on its ubiquitous compelling commercial rotation on cable TV. By almost every account, the group performed valuable services helping veterans.

But it also had a dark side. Top executives also developed a penchant for lavish conferences and internal spending. After the specter of impropriety and misplaced priorities was raised, executives found themselves on the outside.

Rebuilding and enhancing the reputation of this organization will take months and years. The organization recently hired a new interim COO, retired Major General Charlie Fletcher. Putting a respected military leader in charge was a swift and decisive step toward rebuilding that trust.

The nonprofit is demonstrating what it stands for and its values. The public can weigh the body of work versus the impurity of wasteful spending by a few.  The paid media campaign both helped and hurt the group. The significant media spend raised the media and public interest in its potential improprieties. However, it also cemented a brand and reputation.

They must now follow with action and deed, but this organization is on the road to recovery.  

Whether you are recruiting top talent, trying to influence consumers, or repairing your reputation, you need a strategy to communicate who you are, and what you and your employees do everyday.  It’s good for HR and good for business.