Congress Wants You

Today’s entry is based on one of the 20 case studies in my position paper, “Beyond the Bottom Line: 20 Ways to Reduce Reputational Risk.”

The risk

Congress has taken note of your CEO’s extravagant bonuses and perquisites

The Background

It was just a matter of time. Rumor was your oh-so-elegant top executive was living the high life. This raised alarm bells with your senior communicators, who predicted it would eventually come to light.

When The Wall Street Journal finally reported just how good he has it, your communicators were gracious enough not to say, “I told you so.” The main impact is likely to fall upon your CEO. For appearance sake if nothing else, he will need to give up some of his indulgences.

Congress seal

The Reputational Costs

Pursuit from watchdogs in Congress followed closely on the heels of disclosures from news outlets. One irate House member happens to chair the committee with jurisdiction over your industry. And she wants your CEO to testify at a grilling, with him as the main course. His reputation as a bon vivant will do him little good on Capitol Hill.


Recommended Action

  1. Since your chief communicators knew about this possibility ahead of time, they should have prepared for the inevitable by scheduling media training workshops for your CEO, key board members, and other executives. Let’s hope they were wise enough to hire a communications training consultant unafraid to raise that tough issue during the sessions.
  2. Convene a no-holds-barred Congressional testimony training. “Thrill on the Hill: How to Turn Congressional Testimony into Public Policy Success” can help.
  3. Seek out one of your CEO’s respected peers, and suggest a series of heart-to-heart talks. Contemporaries can often persuade where others fail.

There must be a number four recommendation out there somewhere. What’s yours?


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