As PR disasters go, B&Q’s embarrassing
mistake of selling mole repellents in a country with no moles pales into
insignificance compared to the shambles
of the Olympic torch relay.
The Chinese government would do well to heed Warren Buffett’s
wise words to managers of Berkshire Hathaway’s subsidiary companies:
“I want employees to
ask themselves whether they are willing to have any contemplated act appear on
the front page of their local paper the next day, be read by their spouses,
children, and friends ... If they follow this test, they will not fear my other
message to them: Lose money for my firm and I will be understanding; lose a
shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless.”
But this sound advice doesn’t only apply to governments and
Buffett’s managers, it should also be adopted by every right thinking business
owner, large or small.
Reputation is everything.