Warren Buffet has famously said that it takes years to build a strong reputation and just a second to see the whole thing come crashing down. According to online reputation management agency Reputation Changer, the dramatic rise-and-fall of a person’s reputation has only intensified in the wake of the Internet’s rise. And the ebb and flow of a reputation is not just something that affects individuals, either; businesses are also subject to dramatic shifts in public perception — shifts that are often facilitated, or at least exacerbated, by the fevered pace of the online community.
And to be sure, when a public figure or a major company experiences an epic crash-and-burn, it is difficult to look away. In much the same way that we cannot take our eyes off a car crash, we find it difficult to avert our gaze as a reputation is utterly decimated on Twitter, Facebook, or simply the homepage of a popular news website. But what begs the question: Which individuals and companies have suffered from the biggest reputation meltdowns in 2012? Who among us can truly be said to be having the worst year ever?
The Inquisitr sat down with online reputation management team Reputation Changer to count down six of the worst reputation candidates of 2012. Below is a list that includes the three individuals to have the worst online reputations in 2012 and then moves into the three companies to have the worst online reputations of the year.
Given the political events of the last few months, it is natural to look to the Grand Old Party in search of some Republicans whose good names have taken a hit in 2012. Surprisingly, though, Gov. Mitt Romney finds himself clear of this list as his approval rating actually climbed to 47% following the end of his election cycle; Romney even managed to come closer in the election than John McCain did, and he gave a dignified concession speech that went a long way toward making some enemies forget about his “binders of women” and generally elitist comments.
Not the same could be said for Donald Trump, a formerly reputable businessman whose public persona has taken a real beating in recent years. Of course, it all started with his “birther” antics and bizarre obsession with President Obama’s birth certificate. Trump has been a little quieter in 2012, perhaps, but a Google search for his name reveals that many people still associate him with race-baiting, political hysterics — enough so that he is now seen more as a curmudgeonly old man than as any kind of business paragon.
It doesn’t help that Donald Trump has been on an endless crusade against Rosie O’Donnell for years or that his company’s regularly seek bankruptcy while he continues to collect hundreds of millions in personal payments.
And since the subject of Republicans has emerged, a vote must be cast for Missouri’s outgoing Congressman Todd Akin. Many of us have forgotten about the fact that, just a few months back, Akin seemed to have his re-election campaign all but in the bag with his name rapidly rising in the polls. Then he made his series of famously insensitive remarks about women’s issues, and unrepentantly plowed forward, establishing himself as a sort of caricature of bone-headed ignorance. All in all, it was not Akin’s best year.
It didn’t help matters that Akin had almost zero public outreach online. As his opponents and detractors battered him on Twitter, Facebook, and through online news sources, he was lost in cyber space, unable to quell the thousands of negative comments that came at his every single hour of the day.
But the person with the worst reputation in America remains Casey Anthony — a fact that may or may not surprise. True enough: We are now a good ways removed from her historic acquittal, but that hardly means her name has regained any kind of luster or reputability. Again, a Google search is all you need to discover the rough patch Anthony is still in; the paparazzi hounds her, and rumors circulate every few weeks about her case being re-opened, her innocence revoked. It is a bad reputation that she will never live down, and, certainly, 2012 was a dismal year for her.
Anything didn’t help her case when she appeared on YouTube to talk about her new, seemingly normal life. Anthony could have simply disappeared into the background of pop culture but instead she chose to throw herself in front of millions of potential people. By making herself seem as if she “moved on” without addressing her real life issues, her reputation continued to plummet. By mid-2012, Anthony death threats were still in full swing, and her name continues to be synonymous with child murder.
Those are the people whose reputations sunk to the lowest lows in 2012. But what about businesses and brands? America’s economy began to rebound in the previous year, but that does not mean a few companies did not make some truly epic errors, resulting in severe reputation damage. Reputation Changer believes the tree following company’s did the worst job at online brand management in 2012.
2012 can be seen as something of a “rebuilding” year for Netflix following a few big flops in 2011. Last year, the company announced that it would be hiking its prices; then, it announced it would be splitting its services in half; then, it backed out of that plan but continued forward with the price hike. For years, Netflix has been known for its sterling customer service, but in recent months it has thrown all that out the window.
The past few months may have been a little kinder to Netflix, with some of the subscribers who previously jumped ship returning to the fold. If you think the company’s reputation has not taken a dive, though, think again: Netflix posted its first quarterly losses in seven years earlier this year. Things have only gotten shakier from there, with the company’s internal problems spilling over into continued distrust, among customers and investors alike.
You can say what you will about Chik-Fil-A’s political stance, and you can say what you will about the free speech issues that were drudged up as a result of the whole fervor. What remains clear is that Chik-Fil-A, a company that once had a peerless reputation, found itself facing the heat of a major political firestorm — one that it probably did not want! Today, online searches for Chik-Fil-a reveal that there is still an awful lot of ill will toward the company, proving just how difficult it is to bounce back from a reputation breakdown.
Chik-Fil-A has particularly suffered in the social media sector where Twitter, Facebook, and other network users continue to poke and prod at the company, even well after it backed down from its very public support of anti-gay rhetoric.
Chik-Fil-A, rather than apologizing for its public opinions, decided to be combative, only to quickly learn that it couldn’t possible take on thousands of online voices that were attacking the company all at one time.
The fast food chain continues to donate money to anti-gay groups, and online users continue to attack the company.
Reputation Changer hardly needs to say anything about this business entity, which made its way into the history books this year through a trading error that totaled billions of dollars in loss. Naturally, this did little to bolster JPM’s reputation among the public, which was already distrustful of major banking institutions.
J.P. Morgan felt the impact of its error throughout various financial forums, social networks and websites. A simple search for the company can easily turn up negative remarks, angry tweets and other frustrations.
It didn’t help the company’s reputation that J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon was awarded a $23 million pay package.
Reputation Changer has been managing reputations for individuals and company’s since 2009. Now considered the #1 reputation management company in the world, their experts agree with our stance that a reputation is a simple thing to destroy online, and, as the examples above show us, an online reputation can damage companies just as quickly as it can damage a persons reputation.