Time to Refocus on Reputation

I think we’ve let ourselves get distracted over the past couple of years by the digital bandwagon. We’ve got all of these new communications channels all around us that promise so much. But what has really changed?

Regardless of whether you are broadcasting on Facebook, Sina Weibo or YouTube, we still have our target audiences just as we had with newspapers, TV and radio. We’ve always had “fans” who “like” us and detractors who don’t. Deciding which side of the fence to sit on is still based on values and behavior.

We’ve all heard the adage that “it takes a lifetime to build a reputation, but it only can take a minute to lose it.” Never has this been more true. But did you know this was coined over 75 years before the current digital age? Word-of-mouth has always worked and still works. Retweeting may make it go round the world faster, but the effect is the same.

I think there are two things that have changed in our new digital world. First, modern society holds individuals and organizations more accountable for their actions than ever before. Second, amplification: the always-on, always-refreshed, always-shared digital world turns up the volume dial on dissatisfaction and complaint. What’s more, these two factors are related in a feedback loop which cannot be interrupted: accountability feeds amplification, which feeds accountability ad infinitum.

So now that we’ve taken stock of where we are, let’s get back to the fundamentals. In this modern, highly connected world, reputation is as important as it has ever been. What’s new is that we’ve now got the most comprehensive tool kit we’ve ever had at our disposal to manage it effectively.


Dr. Simeon Mellalieu (麥善銘), Partner, Client Development APAC, is a communications specialist with almost 20 years of experience in PR consultancy in Europe and Asia. His expertise lies in corporate positioning and reputation management, brand building, consumer marketing and engagement and issues and crisis management.
Listed in the PRWeek Global Power Book 2016 and 2017, Simeon is Honorary Secretary of PR Hong Kong and served as Chairman from 2010-2013. He also sat on the Advisory Committee for the School of Communications at Hong Kong Baptist University from 2014-2016.
His business-to-business, business-to-consumer and crisis communications experience spans industry sectors as diverse as aerospace, automotive, food and beverage, finance and investment, gaming, healthcare, payment, petrochemical, retail, travel and technology. He has consulted for such clients as Bacardi, Boeing, Disney Channel, FedEx, Ford, Levi Strauss & Co., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Malaysia Airlines, Motorola, Nissan, Philips Semiconductors, Rolls-Royce, Shell and Visa.

Simeon is a steward of client relationships across all of Ketchum’s offices in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, rallying and coordinating specialist support across the region, upholding client care, best practices, and the introduction of new services. He provides senior counsel for local, regional and global clients at the highest boardroom level.
His work has gained recognition through multiple industry awards. In 2007, he received the David Drobis Award, Ketchum’s highest accolade rewarding excellence in client service.

Simeon is also a regular speaker, panelist and chair at industry events in the Asia Pacific region covering subject matter as diverse as social/digital communications trends, data and creativity, issues and crisis management, corporate affairs and agency management. Recent appearances include PR360 Asia 2017 (panelist), the Asia Pacific Corporate Affairs Forum 2015 and 2016 (panel chair) and Crisis and Reputation Management 2016 and 2017 (conference chair).
He is also a regular judge of industry awards including Public Affairs Asia Gold Standard Awards (2011 – 2017) and PRWeek Asia (2013).
Based in Hong Kong for 15 years he started his PR career in the UK before transferring to Asia. He joined Ketchum in 2004.
Simeon is British and was educated at University College London.