Can This Reputation Be Saved?
Short answer: Not a chance.
Before you even ask, no I’m not going to hold forth on the prospects for BP’s reputation. It seems to go up and down depending on the weather, the oil slick, and who’s talking into the microphone at the time.
On the other hand Goldman Sachs’ reputation is so permanently tarnished that I doubt if it is salvageable in my lifetime. (Although, I have no doubt that by the time my grand-nephew, who is six, enters his “investment years,” Goldman Sachs will once again be trusted.)
The problem, at least for the next couple decades, is that no amount of damage control or relationship building will eradicate the association of the Goldman Sachs brand with our current economic meltdown. Thanks to their unapologetic performance at congressional hearings, the SEC criminal investigation, and non-stop media attention, they are, in the mind of the public, at least partly responsible for the recession and subsequent loss of jobs and mortgage foreclosures.
Goldman Sachs has amassed all three necessary ingredients for permanent reputation damage:
- Doing bad stuff,
- Not showing remorse or compassion, and
- Ignoring the relationship between all that bad press and their bottom line.
Only after their stock fell by 23% and shareholders got antsy did they launch a PR charm offensive. And it has fallen on very deaf ears. It is a classic case of too little, too late. No amount of spin can reverse the effects of decades of bad behavior. --KDP