Character Assassination and Reputation Management with Jennifer Keohane

Character assassination. Reputational attacks. What are they? Who is at risk? Are they more widespread than ever?

This edition of C-suite Blueprint Radio touches on those questions and more with Jennifer Keohane, assistant professor and director of oral communication at the University of Baltimore, and a co-founder of the Character Assassination and Reputation Politics research lab (CARP).Keohane headshot

She is also co-editor of the Routledge Handbook on Character Assassination and Reputation Management and co-wrote the forthcoming book Character Assassination and Reputation Management: Theory and Applications. The latter book, a primer for those thrown into crisis of reputational attack, will be available in the summer of 2021.

Here are just a few of the highlights from our conversation:

  • One of the most important things to understand: The public associates C-suite executives with their business. Those executives must take seriously their role as the face of organization. Anyone in the public eye “needs to have a preparation plan in place,” Keohane says.
  • In her words, “It’s so important for these people to undergo communications training because all of the research indicates that effective public speaking skills are how you build trust. Your reputation is all about whether people trust you.”
  • There is no silver bullet to protect an organization from reputational threat.
  • Make deposits into your reputational capital. “Having a solid balance going into any type of threat is important,” she advises.
  • Conduct in depth monitoring of the communication environment to find the public conversation around your organization and your product. That includes mainstream media and digital media.
  • “Character assassination exists in every era that we’ve investigated,” Keohane says. “That includes the realms of politics and business.”
  • “All of the research suggests that quick, consistent, and frequent communication is really significant for forestalling and minimizing the damage that may come as a result of any reputational attack.”

If the reputations of your executives and your company matter — and they should — this essential conversation is one you cannot afford to miss. Learn more about the work of Keohane and her colleagues at and follow her on Twitter at keohaneja .

A reminder that on C-suite Blueprint Radio I interview a range of experts on matters related to communications and public affairs strategy.

Each program runs approximately 15 minutes — enough to give you the context you need without belaboring your schedule.

I invite you to suggest communications or government relations experts who would make intriguing guests.

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  1. Your interview offered lots of food for thought, Jennifer. It will no doubt prove of value to communications and public affairs officers and those they counsel. Thank you for taking time to share your insights.

  2. Reblogged this on Jennifer Keohane and commented:
    I enjoyed very much chatting with Ed Barks of C-Suite Blueprint about character assassination and reputation management in the realm of corporate communication. You can listen to our conversation by following the links below.

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