Yet again comes the “death of” meme, this time from Mike Arrington. The headline grabs, but Mike, IMHO, is not really saying what the headline does, he’s making a point w/ some nuance, which never translates well to headlines. He is saying that in the online flame and bake world of today, it is harder to manage and maintain a reputation, not that it is not important, or even dead. On this point, he is correct. For businesses and for people, it’s a wild west world where comment streams, twitter feeds, ratings, rankings, news posts, speeches and photos can pack a punch, where it is harder than ever to figure out what is true and what is rumor and where the ability to discern when to respond to attacks and when to pause becomes more critical than ever. He also says he is giving up, which I find difficult to believe.
But the answer is not the death of reputation, but the realization that it is more important than ever. Because while everyone makes mistakes, has photos out there, commits youthful indiscretions, middle aged indiscretions, etc, these are subsumed in the idea of reputation with a big “R.” This is made up of all we do, how we act in public, in private, online and off. A reputation of fairness, built over years, can’t be undone by a Yelp review or random blog post. So the challenge is simple – think about reputation as a long term thing, built and nurtured and rebuilt time and time again. That is enduring. And important.