The challenges of The Co-operative Bank and the furore around the role of the former chair, made co-operatives - businesses that are member-owned - an unhappy national news story in late 2013. Three months on and I feel that I can breathe again. But what difference did these high profile troubles make to the wider co-operative sector and the long-term reputation of our business model?
Getting fired because of a bad joke is certainly a painful experience on its own. But watching the joke as it makes its way to the front pages of major international newspapers, pushed by a global wave of public indignation, is definitely a lot worse. Especially when it's just a few days before Christmas.
Warren Buffett isn't often wrong. Yet he was when he said: 'It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.' Most reputations are severely damaged because an organisation has failed over many years to operationally live up to the high expectations set by their PR and marketing activity.
Just like the adage "a picture is worth a thousand words", YOUR picture on search engines could be worth a great deal when it comes to your online reputation. If you want to do a quick check to find out what people are saying about you, or what has been written about you; you type your name into Google and the results are available in an instant.
Far too many people still think of the internet as a veil which they can hide behind and maintain an online persona that is private; the truth is somewhat more disturbing: The internet is a reflection of exactly who you are and if you're looking to impress, you'd better make sure that your reflection is a true and fair depiction of exactly who you are.