Building a reputation is not enough but there must be daily activities to maintain and protect the reputation.
By Ivan N Baliboola
A lot has been said about the late Prof Lawrence Mukiibi's family life and this article is meant to offer educational insight into PR reputation management. It is not a personal attack.
It's against African culture to talk about the dead but it's also important to draw lessons from those who die so we do better. Reputation building and protection yields results if you set clear life goals and principles from the word go.
Professor Mukiibi had a good reputation that disappeared after his burial. Pictures of his alleged big family caused a public outcry. Some media reports have put the number of children at 80. Some children in the pictures looked like they were of the same age but not twins. According to the PR (Public Relations) court also known as the Court of public opinion, it was a sign of unacceptable conduct for an educationist. Other elders and moral authorities like Uganda National Teachers' Union (UNATU) joined the condemnation.
I believe that there are known minimum standards of behaviour just like there are minimum qualifications. Without such standards there is no legacy or good reputation. Any doubt of credibility means a damaged reputation. Securing a reputation starts with maintaining credibility. Credibility is a measure for a reputation. Building a reputation is not enough but there must be daily activities to maintain and protect the reputation.
Your Reputation will always affect your everything including family, career and business. The personal reputation damage of the Professor has since affected the St. Lawrence schools and University brand. Even God knows that the greatest possession you could ever have on earth is a good reputation. According to the Bible (Proverbs 22:1), a good name is to be chosen rather great riches. Do not get me wrong, not everyone is perfect.
Professor's issue teaches us that media is not our friends but will serve the public mindset. We must be seen to be good. I don't know of communication specialists who still have the belief of "control" over all media messages. Negative news spreads extremely fast. Reputation damage in "social media and leaks era" is worse than forest fires. You cannot buy out all newspapers of that day that have a negative story about you. By the time burn hard copies, people would be sharing screenshots of the newspaper story on social media.
The fact that St Lawrence institutions are founded on Christian principles just made the name damage worse if allegations are to be trusted. Educationists are supposed to be great role models to students and pupils. Students may think having children anyhow is okay just like their role model. Christianity has particular principles of how to get children and a wife. Christianity has not place for many wives for one man.School business per say is a family brand and must be seen to support good family values. What does that portray about the conduct of such an educationist and examples set? Such thoughts would worry any parent about the schools.
Ugandans should take personal branding seriously. Everyone must invest in both reputation building and protection. It pays to behave well and mind who you interact with. Many people have lost their reputation just by associating themselves with controversial personalities.
Building personality is important for a good reputation. Did you know that a sudden career change can have a lasting impact on your reputation? Most people care about a job pay than what it will add to their reputation. Today, it is no longer about the money, or a clean heavy CV but a good reputation. Think of the investigative journalists who built personal brands of being political critics but they lost public respect and fan bases the moment they were politically appointed to full time political jobs. The Public today trashes their public opinions which was not the case before.
Reputation will always be damaged but there must be readiness to reconcile contradictory aspects so the future is clearer. The Family should also be commended for coming out to respond on the matter in the media. It is possible to repair a damaged reputation but it must be out of sincerity. Don't be fooled that good deeds can easily offset reputation damages. Even awards of excellence received prior to the bad reputation may just worsen the issue. You cannot offset a damaged reputation by merely philanthropy and awards.
There is a controversial word that was on a St Lawrence website that went viral. It was not immediately taken down. Online Search reputation management is a new science that all businesses and individuals must practice today. When was the last time you goggled yourself or your business online to assess the top five searches that came up. After the search then take action to protect the reputation if it was damaged.
If you guard your home with all that you have, why not your reputation. Invest just as you build a perimeter fence, hire guards, and install intruder alarms to protect your house valuables. If you can afford, hire a professional reputation handler not a personal assistant. A handler manages everything around you including appearance.
The writer is a PR and Organisational diagnosis specialist