Gil’s Corner: On Reputation

Editor’s Note: As part of the 20th anniversary of The Hodges Partnership, we are taking a more intimate look at the agency’s namesake and why co-founders Jon Newman and Josh Dare chose to honor Gil Hodges with the company’s name. Here is the latest installment. You can catch up on the previous piece here.

Among the varied objectives for hiring a public relations agency, reputation management ranks among the foremost. Sure, clients want greater visibility and added exposure, and they want to turn the volume up so that their own prospective clients know what they do well.

But what lies at the foundation of effective public relations is your reputation. 

Are you credible and honest? Do you deliver on your promises? Do you care about your employees and the community beyond your doors?

Reputations are forged over time, which brings me to Gil Hodges on a crisp fall afternoon in October 1969. It’s Game 5 of the World Series, and improbably, the Mets have a three games-to-one lead over the American League champion Orioles. One more win, and the Mets not only would take home their first championship trophy, but also complete one of the most improbable turnarounds in sports history, having finished pretty near dead last the year before.

It’s’ the bottom of the eighth inning, the score tied at 3-3 with Cleon Jones in the box facing Orioles ace Dave McNally. The lefty’s first pitch dives down and in, sending Jones scurrying to keep his balance before finally beginning his trot down to first base. But then home plate umpire Lou DiMuro calls him back, asserting that the pitch never hit Jones’ shoe, as the batter was claiming.

After some animated discussion around the batter’s box, out slowly walks Mets skipper Gil Hodges. In his hand, a baseball. He shows it to DiMuro, quietly pointing out the shoe polish scuffed into it. The ump studies the ball, mulls over the situation and points Jones toward first base.

The Orioles, of course, were apoplectic at the reversal. How could DiMuro be so sure that that was even the baseball? How did he know that someone on the Mets had not scuffed up the ball in the dugout? How could you reverse a call in the World Series on such flimsy evidence?

Easy. Gil Hodges’s reputation. The former Dodgers great – who this year finally was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame – had earned a reputation since the early 1950s as a man of quiet dignity, someone who comported himself at all times as a gentleman and sportsman and someone who came to the defense of Jackie Robinson when the second baseman was the subject of bouts of hatred.

Your organization’s values are the building blocks of your reputation, and your actions are what put those building blocks in place.

This thinking is what has guided us as we built our agency, and we like to think it’s what also has led to our success over these past 20 years.

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Josh Dare

Josh’s career in communications spans more than four decades. In addition to providing strategic counsel and crisis communications direction to clients, he is the resident Writer-In-Chief, regularly writing op-eds and bylines on behalf of clients that have been published in The Washington Post, The Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Huffington Post, among others.

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