Top Ten Reputation Managers
‘I deal with problems, so I see myself as a fixer,’ says Jonathan Hawker, a one-man-band who’s dealt with crises arising from all manner of misconduct, from white-collar crime (including the largest fraud in Europe) to corporate and individual disputes. ‘It’s the usual, what we call “relationship problems”,’ he says coolly of 2017, the highlight of which was the landmark shareholder action against RBS, which settled before trial. ‘The truth of the matter is, disputes can arise out of any transaction.’ What gives him the biggest buzz is extricating clients from a situation ‘where it all looks bleak’. The corporate world is rife with crises, as corporations are increasingly prone to cyberattacks and blackmail. ‘A lot of organisations and individuals think it’s a sad fact of life and a cost to business these days,’ he says. ‘It sticks in the stomach, really, when you have to continue paying criminals in order to conduct your business normally.’ Hawker, a former journalist at ITN and the BBC, is highly selective of his clientele. It’s a luxury that larger PR firms rarely have, he says, as they spend the time ‘producing forecasts based on their P&Ls that show top-line growth’ – an approach that’s rarely sustainable, especially during tougher economic times. It’s partly why the Bell Pottinger scandal arose, where the pressure to bring in more work makes it ‘very easy to take on the wrong client’.