We all know the feeling, it was a bad day; you woke up on the wrong side of the bed; you had an argument with a loved one; your sports team lost again; you had a flat tire etc. There are so many reasons to get in a bad mood and one slight mistake, one carelessness statement, one wrong reaction can lead to Newspaper articles, Twitter trends, topics of conversation between Radio and TV personalities and just like that, a once clean reputation now has a story that can be brought up over and over, year after year, whenever your name is mentioned or worst, if you have another bad day.
Your first thought is to panic and then damage control mode; “How am I going to rebuild my reputation?” This is okay as it is natural for people to worry about how they are perceived, but that concern increases tenfold when it’s your professional reputation at stake.
There are golden rules to keep in mind when going down the road to reputation recovery. It is not so much a step-by-step process as it is a fluid and changing path. There will be new obstacles and you will have to adjust, change strategy and tactics as there is no one solution, but it will all come together to help in repairing a damaged reputation in the media, because yes, reputations can be rebuilt.
Here are six steps you can use to repair the damage to your reputation:
1. Analyze the damage
2. Tell the truth
4. Stay true to who you are
5. Create a recovery road map
6. Be patient
Analyze the Damage
First, take a step back and survey the extent of the damage at hand. There are many ways to do this, but here are a few of the most important methods of monitoring collateral damage.
- Track the Press about your Brand
- Track Social Media mentions
- Research comment sections on news websites and blogs
- Monitor review sites for complaints
- Touch base with your investors, stakeholders, Fans etc
Tell the Truth
Be brief and factual about what happened, and focus on the future. Own up to your mistake(s) and tell your audience what you’re doing to make things right.
Write a straightforward apology that’s genuine. Your apology is perhaps the single most important step in this process, so make it count. Start by issuing a formal apology letter on your website and/or social media platforms. While you would want to put a positive spin on the apology, don’t sugarcoat it.
Stay true to who you are
Create a recovery road map
So far, you’ve promised that you’ll make things better. Now it’s time to deliver. Your reputation PR and marketing teams should work together to create a systematic recovery roadmap. Take all the feedback from customers, investors and the general public and form a step-by-step recovery process.
To quote Warren Buffett:
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Whatever the reason is for your reputation problems, the most important thing is that you start to fix them. But how do you decide where to start? It’s intimidating enough to assess everything that needs to be done and figure out the best way to go about doing all of it.
Starting anywhere is better than not doing anything at all. Having said that, there are good and bad ways of starting. The good thing is, using the long history of scandals, and crisis situations as case studies, we can figure out what works best for you.