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The 18 Immutable Laws of Corporate Reputation: Creating, Protecting, and Repairing Your Most Valuable Asset (Wall Street Journal Book) Hardcover – March 16, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Major corporations take hits to their reputation all the time, but the problem has rarely seemed as pervasive as during the recent pileup of business scandals. Alsop, a marketing columnist and editor at the Wall Street Journal, studies companies from a broad range of industries to show how a corporation can make a name for itself, then maintain that reputation or fix it when things go wrong. Harris Interactive supplies plenty of poll data to gauge public perception, but the real meat of this book lies in the stories Alsop tells about specific companies. His examples are detailed and immediate, from Coca-Cola's use of its Web site to debunk persistent urban legends to the disastrously slow corporate response when a flustered Starbucks employee made World Trade Center rescue workers pay for bottled water. Some companies come in for particularly close scrutiny, such as Phillip Morris, for trying to shed its big tobacco image by renaming itself the Altria Group. And Alsop's not afraid to call things as he sees them. He criticizes Martha Stewart's attempts to spin her bad publicity and declares McDonald's "had better hurry up and give people more reasons to love it," suggesting a new ad campaign won't make up for poor customer service. That feistiness permeates much of his advice, as when he suggests to business owners that "most activists are your enemy," but the tone is combative without being offensive. And though some of the conclusions may seem obvious, executives will likely find the book an effective basic primer for dealing with public image.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Ronald Sargent President and CEO, Staples, Inc. The 18 Immutable Laws of Corporate Reputation couldn't have arrived at a better time. Companies and their reputations are under scrutiny as never before, and every executive will benefit from reading this book. It's an expertly written guide that through vivid examples shows the rewards of carefully tending your corporate reputation -- and the perils of failing to do so.

Yves Couette President and CEO, Ben & Jerry's A positive reputation is nothing to take for granted, but rather to be cultivated day by day. There's much at stake for any company and this book will provide invaluable assistance in managing your reputation. Ron Alsop provides both illuminating examples and practical advice that will help you not only to establish a good reputation but also to make it endure.

Paul Danos Dean, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth Ron Alsop gives the manager some indispensable insights into creating and maintaining a good corporate reputation. The writing is straightforward and refreshingly free of jargon, and the company examples are timely, relevant, and revealing. The book raises issues of critical importance both to business schools and to corporations.

Joy Marie Sever, Ph.D. Senior Vice President and Director, The Reputation Practice at Harris Interactive The 18 Immutable Laws of Corporate Reputation is a unique combination of expert journalistic insight and knowledge gained from quantitative research into how people perceive corporations. Ron Alsop identifies the powerful principles that characterize corporate reputation, and provides revealing details based on specific corporate experiences. Alsop not only establishes the critical importance of reputation to corporate strategy, but provides the essential and much-needed guidance that companies are seeking to understand the dynamics of their own corporate reputations.

Meyer Feldberg, Ph.D. Dean, Columbia Business School Alsop's new book captures most effectively what we either do know or should know about reputation. He demonstrates through his eighteen laws that a sustainable reputation takes decades to achieve and the blink of eye to lose. It turns out that building and sustaining a reputation is a marathon and not a sprint.

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Product Details

  • Series: Wall Street Journal Book
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (March 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074323670X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743236706
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,225,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alsop is a senior reporter for the Wall Street Journal and I have read many of his stories over the years. I am glad that someone of his caliber has addressed the issue of corporate reputaion at a time when big business ranks about equal to politicians in public perception. Even the mafia is thought to be less sleazy!!
Alsop starts with a basic, uncontestable premise: A corporation's reputation is one of its most valuable assets. This determines how much slack a cynical public will cut it when things start to go wrong. Other assets - such as those that show up on the balance sheet - are carefully measured, tracked and managed. Reputations are not. Not even by so-called excellently managed companies.
Next Alsop lays out various 'laws' to help a company manage its reputation. The first two just talk about how important it is and how important it is to measure it. Then he becomes much more interesting as he starts laying out what a company should do build and maintain a sterling reputation.
He stresses how important it is for a company to 'live' its values and ethics and why being defensive is actually offensive. These could be bromides. What gives them value are Alsop's anecdotes drawn from a lifetime of reporting on business. These well selected stories not only illustrate his points, they also show the reader how to implement his ideas in their own situation. And there are hundreds os such stories.
For example, Alsop talks about how being socially responsible can be an important component of a sterling reputation. And he relates how Timberland does it with a range of initiatives from monitoring labor practices at its contractors' overseas factories to giving its employess the opportunity to do community service on company time. And he doesn't stop there.
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Format: Hardcover
"The 18 Immutable Laws of Corporate Reputation" (18 Laws) draws an up-to-date roadmap for (1)establishing a good corporate reputation, (2)maintaining that reputation and (3)repairing a damaged corporate reputation. Starting with the premise that a good reputation is a corporation's most priceless asset, writer Ronald Alsop presents mini case-studies of "lessons learned" from the crises faced by companies and organizations such as Johnson & Johnson, Merrill Lynch, Philip Morris (Altria), and the Roman Catholic Church to explore the benefits of a good reputation, the consequences of a bad reputation and ways to protect good reputations and fix bad ones.
While sticking mostly to the main highways of stategy development and avoiding the gritty back roads of tactical decision making, 18 Laws provides important insights into key principles and strategies for building, maintaining, and fixing corporate reputations. Though it lacks turn-by-turn directions and employs clichés with surprising frequency, this well-researched, well-organized and clearly-written business book is a worthwhile addition to the personal, corporate or PR agency library. C-level executives and corporate communications professionals can benefit in perusing the 18 laws in preparation for the next inevitable corporate crisis or as a strategic reference manual for use as the crisis unfolds.
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Format: Hardcover
From Martha Stewart to the NYSE, reputation crises have been screaming from the headlines. Will Disney recover its sterling reputation despite the handicap of its celebrity CEO? Did Martha Stewart's publicity tactics help or hurt her company's image? Why did Philip Morris morph into the Altria Group?
Making sense of it all is Ron Alsop, a senior writer and news editor at The Wall Street Journal. Ron has brought his years of experience as marketing columnist and editor of the Marketplace page to the subject of corporate reputations.
Backed up by data from Harris Interactive and other sources, Alsop's book recounts the rise and fall of reputations. He highlights successful strategies as well as spectacular failures. Companies from dozens of industries serve as examples. And Alsop offers specific suggestions for protecting your reputation, coping with the Internet, measuring your public image, and making employees effective ambassadors for a great business.
Alsop's new book promises to be a landmark work for PR professionals. The book is beautifully structured; the best practices of successful companies are easy to identify and apply. Quotes and interviews with decision-makers reinforce and amplify the lessons learned.
I've worked in corporate communications around the world for more than 20 years and I don't believe any other source provides as much useful information as Alsop's "18 Immutable Laws." Beyond its utility, it's also a darn good read.
Great reputations can be lost in a heartbeat. Ron Alsop's new book is the secret weapon business people need to emerge unscathed from the corporate reputation battlefield.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book highly readable, balanced and full of useful information. It should become a textbook for people in the communications field and for senior executives.
The book is structured so well, with the best practices of companies clearly explained. The author is feisty in his assessment of reputation blunders and shortcomings, but he always turns them into instructive lessons.
Mr. Alsop vividly illustrates each law with detailed examples. I especially enjoyed learning about companies' tactics for dealing with Internet rumors, Merrill Lynch's crisis-management strategies, and the inside story of Philip Morris's name change.
There are also many rankings of companies with the best and worst reputations. And the author has written entertaining short pieces for some of the chapters about famous corporate apologies, the IBM Hall of Shame, and a corporate name change quiz.
Given the state of corporate America's reputation, this book should have a long shelf life.
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