Your business is in the headlines! People are talking about your service. Comments are filling your social media channels more than ever before … but not for the reasons you’d hoped.
In today’s world of virality and cancel culture, Deloitte found that 87% of executives rank reputation risk as more important than other strategic risks. If your business is facing a public reputation crisis, you’ll want to act fast yet smart. These 3 reputation management solutions will save your company and your conscience after a crisis.
Before any troubleshooting is done, ensure communication is at the top of your priority list. Discovery of the crisis by employees, partners, customers, and any other valuable stakeholders should NOT be through the grapevine.
Meet with your communications team to identify what has happened, what this means for the company and employees, how/if anything will change and what will stay the same. Communicate all information clearly and compassionately through a company-wide email as soon as possible, or better yet, hold a townhall style gathering that delivers all information verbally. Being transparent about the magnitude of the crisis is important and being quick to address how employees are impacted, either emotionally or financially, is the best approach to keep rapport strong.
As for the media and the general public, the best you can do is be human and apologize. In doing so, you’ll want to appoint a spokesperson to speak on your brand’s behalf. This person should be a CEO or leadership executive and someone you trust to best represent your company. Appoint a good communicator who has at least some experience with confrontation or public appearances in the past, since how they react in public will influence how stakeholders view you after the crisis.
Next, and sometimes of higher importance if your social platforms exceed 1,000 community members, is a social media apology. Because let’s face it, negativity is contagious. In the future, you’ll want to consult content removal services like Erase to avoid negative posts about your brand resurfacing.
“Although people produce much more positive content on social media in general, negative content is much more likely to spread,” Amit Goldenberg
You’ll want to nurture your audiences before they spread your reputation crisis like wildfire. Doing nothing is like fanning the flames! So on social, act in a similar fashion as your internal communication. Think of the actual humans on the other side of their screen, and how they are affected by this news. Take this opportunity to reiterate your company’s mission and commitment online in an authentic way. Delivering on that commitment is the crisis solution we’ll dive into next.
Clear. Quick. Compassionate. These are the three pillars of crisis communication when navigating your reputation management.
Why Integrity Matters
In the midst of a crisis, more than ever before, is when you must to do what you say and say what you mean. If you are experiencing a reputation crisis, the above points should aid in ensuring things fizzle out and mitigate backlash. But integrity is the only thing that will protect your reputation long-term. Fear and uncertainty are the primary byproducts of crisis among your employees, customers, and community. So stay true to your values even during times of crisis. How?
During a time of crisis, it is paramount managers are forthright, but it is equally as important for employees to feel they can be transparent with their managers. Encourage honest conversations and ensure consistent information is flowing from the top down around: Is there a chance jobs will be lost? Will people have to work more or less than before? How are employees expected to address questions or concerns outside of work about the crisis? Compassion around the fact that no one likes to feel fear or uncertainty in their work will foster the trust needed in your company culture to move forward.
This same approach must feed your relationships with partners and stakeholders. Afterall, you went into business to provide a quality product or service. Your commitment on that for partners and stakeholders should not waver to save face or a buck. The amount of integrity kept in managing relationships, communication, and conduct throughout crisis will reflect the future success of your company.
The Perfect Time to Address Business Continuity Planning
As you are working through the above to manage your reputation, take this opportunity to plan ahead using the learnings from this crisis. Employee rapport will change, and so might the reality of your business operations.
“Sometimes you need a little crisis to get your adrenaline flowing and help you realize your potential.” Jeannette Walls
Complete your Business Impact Assessment and determine gaps between recovery requirements and current capabilities. Align on recovery strategies and start to plan the framework for what will happen next internally and externally: relocation plans, workarounds, and which continuity elements are integral to make transitions as seamless as possible. This crisis can show you where you had training holes or where there may need to be adjustments in leadership.
We all know talk is cheap, but when it comes to talk about your company, forward thinking and contingency planning henceforth will be essential.
Realizing business potential post reputation crisis is not a means of making light of the situation. For many people in the public eye, a reputation challenge or crisis has pushed them to re-evaluate perspective, mindset, and methods. As we’ve personally and professionally learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is room for resiliency among all people and industries in the midst of unimaginable crisis. The same goes for your reputation. You have the chance to rebuild stronger than you were before through purposeful and compassionate communication, integrity in your commitment to employees and stakeholders, and using crisis as a catalyst for learning and growth.
Each step in this process is no easy feat. Utilize services like Erase to help your company manage the aftermath of long term online content that threatens your reputation so you can combat the negative and get back to business.