Reputation Crises and Purpose’s Importance Mark an Uncertain 2022

Webster’s New World Dictionary defines the word ‘normal’ as: “Conforming with or constituting an accepted standard or norm. Naturally occurring.”

Regardless of how one defines normal, the fine folks who make dictionaries should consider dropping the word entirely (but that’s not one of my predictions).

In fact, whether one chooses the descriptor new normal or next normal to discuss today’s reality, one suggestion is that we opt instead for the word uncertainty.

As initial news of Omicron emerges during these final weeks of the year, it appears that what happens in 2022 seems anything but a sure bet. Perhaps the only ironclad prediction one feels completely comfortable making at this time is ever more uncertainty for the New Year and beyond.

Unexpected Reputation Crises Loom

As a result, I believe we’ll see more corporations pay close attention to new, and completely unexpected, reputation crises that will threaten ALL of their efforts to date in building a solid image and reputation.

Nothing will be more important for organizations in 2022 and beyond than continually stress-testing their responses to a host of completely new and unexpected reputation crises.

Whether it is sex-, race- or gender-related, aggressive behavior toward others or a completely inappropriate comment on social media, companies must anticipate their actions and reactions to a misstep now, and not after, the self-inflicted wound has occurred.


Every member of the C-Suite should participate fully in reputation crisis simulations. Too much is at stake to ignore uncertainty and the reputation minefield that lies in the immediate path of every corporation.

Uncertainty also is a driving force behind the “Great Resignation.” Speaking of, the unprecedented turnover will continue. We’ll see executives leave for an offer that is two or three times greater than their current salary (with a brand-new wardrobe thrown in to sweeten the pot!).

The turnover is occurring because the job market is white hot and workers see the opportunity to leave toxic cultures where the CEO clearly placed profits ahead of people.

Purpose or Peril

Moreover, employees are looking to exit workplaces where the CEO ignored organizational purpose in the midst of the pandemic, the rise of employee and stakeholder activism and countless other societal upheavals.

For example, an entire account team of 17 departed a company with a toxic work culture between March 2020 and today. Imagine being the company these 17 represented and having to decide whether or not to train 17 replacements or hire a more stable firm.

It’s an easy decision and leads to this: Watch for the end of long-standing client-agency relationships because of unprecedented turnover on both sides.

And, we’ll see in-house teams and agencies rely more on ‘smart’ platforms, with AI. They’ll help PR pros better understand target audience wants and needs and provide more effective ways to measure success.

Effectively managing uncertainty demands resilience, preparation and anticipation. 2022 will belong to those who are equal parts agile and vigilant. n