Jeff Chatterton is an expert in building or restoring trust and credibility for corporate reputations. Chatterton is the owner of Checkmate Public Affairs, a consulting practice that specializes in reputation management during high-risk situations.
He started in risk and crisis communications as a journalist, winning several awards for his coverage of a number of “crisis-oriented” events. He worked for the Ontario government, handling a wide array of communications challenges in the resources arena — spending time at the Ministries of Natural Resources, Health, Agriculture, and Environment.
He developed an especially keen interest in agriculture and its technological promises, due in part to his upbringing in Bruce County, Ontario, Canada. “I will be the first to admit I was not raised on a farm. But I'll also tell you I can I've seen first-hand the importance of agriculture to the national economy.
One of Chatterton’s first communication clients was the Town of Walkerton, Ontario, when thousands fell ill after drinking contaminated tap water. This very public, very critical and emotional event prompted Jeff to start Checkmate Public Affairs, because he felt corporations needed access to better ways to speak the truth; especially, when the truth was being stampeded by hysteria, real or imagined.
The range of high risk communication scenarios he has worked in to help companies retain their hard earned reputation is quite robust. Projects have included product recalls, chemical contaminations, layoffs, boycotts, staffing scares, activist attacks and natural disasters. When pressed to identify his area of keenest interest, he would reply that he is most specialized in agricultural bioproducts, and manufacturing or product defects.
I see fantastic technologies out there, and when they get sidelined for no good reason other than public fear or misunderstanding, it's just a shame. Building trust and credibility is absolutely critical” says Chatterton. “Whether it’s a government agency, a politician, a customer or a next-door neighbour soccer mom - when there’s more trust and credibility out there, everyone benefits.”
Chatterton’s goal is to help companies maintain their reputation when dealing with the hits that the world of business can present. Bad things unfortunately happen to good companies. If your issue doesn’t hit the papers, then Jeff knows he has been successful.
Chatterton is quite active in the Canadian political scene. He has volunteered, managed or consulted on over 40 political campaigns in 3 provinces and 4 US States. He recently spent two years juggling responsibilities between Checkmate Public Affairs, and acting as Chief of Staff to a Conservative Member of Parliament in the Canadian Federal Government.
Chatterton authored “Framing the Fish Farmers,” a research paper examining the role activists play in the aquaculture industry, and has also published an audio book on building trust and credibility, entitled “Communicate through the Minefield.”