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Reputation is king in PR: ask Richard III!

Bad reputation: Richard III

Bad reputation: Richard III

Reputation is, indeed, king if events in Leicester this week are anything to go by.  With crowds lining the streets, thousands of people queuing to view the coffin containing bones found under a car park, and with a reburial to be hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury on Thursday, it would seem that a reputation has been restored.  Respect to Richard III’s PR team!

Reputation: hero or villain

According to the Daily Mail, the ‘child killer…was one of the most evil, detestable tyrants ever to walk this earth.’  But with the Queen contributing a written tribute to the reinterment service, The Telegraph concludes that ‘The reputation of Richard III has finally been restored.’

Cardinal Vincent Nichols observed on Sunday that ‘Richard was a man of anxious devotion’ who ‘sought to offer his citizens justice through the law.’  And when Benedict Cumberbatch, a descendant of Richard III, is booked to read at Thursday’s ceremony, you know the good name of the last king to die in battle has, indeed, been revived.

Public image

For over 500 years, Richard’s reputation had been in tatters.  Between the Tutor historians and Shakespeare, the king’s infamy was well established.  Of course, the bard’s intention was to entertain, and what a great job he did in creating the ultimate anti-hero, ‘rudely stamp’d’, ‘deformed, unfinis’d’.

As for historians, they are not immune to interpreting past events based on a personal interest – much like some journalists.  Without a good PR manager behind the Richard brand, the king was always on to a loser.  Yes, he was ruthless, but he lived in ruthless times.  Yes, he plotted and manipulated to achieve his own ends – I make no comment here on modern politics.  So perhaps this reinterment week was what was needed to reassess the public face of the last Plantagenet.

‘At ev’ry word a reputation dies’

Reputation

Reputation

The Richard III Society has been working tirelessly since 1924 to reclaim the reputation of a king who reigned for only two years and who died over 500 years ago.  It’s obviously been a struggle!

What can we learn from this?  A good reputation is hard-won and easily lost…and nigh on impossible to regain.

Whatever you do or say, make sure you act with integrity and maintain goodwill by listening to and engaging with your clients/customers.

If it is true that ‘At ev’ry word a reputation dies’ (Alexander Pope), all organisations can benefit from good public relations.

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