This particular rule of reputation communications was certainly made clear today on the austere Cambridge campus of Harvard University. In today’s world, there are no secrets.
Recent news of Adam Wheeler’s deceit and forgery to gain not only admission to, but thousands of scholarship dollars from Harvard, dominated Boston papers and airwaves over the past 24 hours. Wheeler wove a complicated tale and fabricated a matching paper trail, citing such falsities as studies at MIT, a perfect SAT score, and a diploma from Phillips Academy in Andover. Not only did Wheeler’s scheme comprise a series of intellectual crimes, but it also robbed financial aid opportunities for other worthy students who gained access to the university on their own merits.
Essentially, Wheeler attempted to take a short-cut instead of doing the hard work to establish an exemplary reputation for high academic achievement. Unfortunately, his ruse came crashing down when a professor suspected plagiarism in his application for Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships. Soon after that discovery, Wheeler’s true reputation, including his suspension from Bowdoin College for plagiarism, came shining through. Again, there are no secrets.
As communications strategists and practitioners, we aid our clients in developing platforms to build and sustain a favorable reputation. However, that work must always be based on the sound footing of a truthful and authentic foundation. Mr. Wheeler is now learning this lesson the hard way, as his true colors eventually shone through and washed away even the most carefully constructed façade.
Don’t forget, there are no secrets.