Monday, September 21, 2009

No such thing as bad publicity?

As an avid fan of motorsport I have been following the recent investigation into alleged cheating by the Renault F1 team. Whilst there are many issues at stake in this, not all of which are as logical as the FIA as governing body of Formula One would like us to believe, one thing which is definitely at stake is the reputation of Renault.

I have read many people question why an organisation such as Renault should be involved in F1 - does a manufacturer of family cars benefit from association with F1? The link for Ferrari is reasonably obvious - supercars are perceived to have a lot more in common with race cars than a small hatchback. Renault, having been involved in F1 for many years on and off presumably understand the benefits they receive and weigh these up against the costs.

However, the allegations of cheating have potentially given the impression that Renault are not to be trusted, hence the title of this post - has the very large investment Renault have made to gain a reputation for technical exellence with a wide potential customer base could actually mean they are gaining bad publicity, at a high cost both in terms of the team ownership and loss of reputation.

Time will tell if Renault think this makes the sport less attractive to them, certainly the CEO of Renault - Carlos Ghosn - is known to not be a fan of motorsport, but has recognised the benefits to the organisation. Maybe the publicity and ruling from the FIA giving a suspended ban will change his mind over the benefits. There are lessons all organsiations can learn from this in terms of Managing Corporate Reputation - co-incidentally the title of one of the CIM Chartered Post-Graduate Diploma units - and how the actions of employees at all levels can make a difference to the organisation.

There are many links to this story, one of which is from BBC Sport and another from the FT