Risk & Reputation

RiskRep Radar: When Brands Should Speak Out and What Divisive Acronyms to Avoid

Stagwell’s Risk and Reputation Unit

Welcome to the RiskRep Radar, a biweekly newsletter from Stagwell’s Risk and Reputation Unit leaders on what brands need to know at the intersection of business and politics. Every edition will feature key data and news roundups with early access to Risk and Rep Unit-led polling when available.

Live from CES: When Should Brands Speak Out?

The pendulum has swung back around. Five years ago, brands were encouraged to speak out a lot, but now C-suites are asking whether they should retrench and stay out of politics.

Ray Day and John Gerzema from the Risk and Reputation Unit were at CES 2024 talking to CCOs about how companies should navigate the political cycle, stick to their values and avoid dividing their audience. Watch their Content Studio interview for their advice.

Toxic Words and Acronyms

Words matter and today acronyms are the main troublemakers. That’s according to the Harris Poll’s first-of-its-kind assessment of the most commonly used words in business and not what they mean, but how they’re interpreted. Highlights from the results, which were featured in Axios Communicators:

  • 49% of Americans find “ESG” a divisive term
  • 38% find “DEI” divisive
  • ESG is nearly twice as polarizing a term as “sustainability”
  • The top three most divisive terms were “cancel culture” (78%), “woke” (66%) and “underrepresented” (62%)

The key takeaway: Businesses should remain committed to diversity efforts, which other Harris Poll data shows commands overwhelming support – but avoid the acronyms, which have become overly politicized.

Reputation Case Study: Boeing’s Latest Mishap

Stagwell CEO Mark Penn’s Harvard Business Review piece last month dove into the increasing severity of corporate crises that are centered on politics rather than competence or governance issues. That article featured Boeing as a company that successfully navigated the Crisis U: its reputation took a hit after multiple 737 Max crashes, but it recovered within 2-3 years by proving its core competency. Now after the terrifying 737 Max 9 incident earlier this month, Boeing will have to win back people’s trust all over again. 

Mark Your Calendar: February Risk & Rep Webinar

The Risk and Reputation Unit will be releasing a steady stream of content throughout 2024 to prepare brands for the contentious election cycle. In addition to our biweekly newsletters, stay tuned for our monthly webinar series: 30-minute deep dives for communication leaders into key topics from employee activists to misinformation to geopolitics.

 To RSVP to our first webinar on Thursday, February 22, 12:00-12:30 pm EST, email Alexis Williams. 

ICYMI: Risk and Reputation Unit in the News



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