Damage control and reputation recovery tips after a PR disaster

by | Aug 28, 2018 | Analysis, Public Relations

A PR department is extremely important for the sake of every company’s reputation. Any issue that could affect the consumer has the potential to destroy its public reputation, which could result in a wave of negative publicity and a loss of business if not handled correctly. No business is immune to PR disasters—your company is likely to experience one at some point, be it big or small.

PR crises can be the result of various problems. Someone hacking/stealing sensitive information, the mistreatment of employees or customers, controversial marketing campaigns or slogans, or any illegal activity by anyone even remotely associated with your brand are just some of the issues that could plague your public appearance.

In 2017 alone, some huge brands suffered PR disasters. With today’s technological advances, keeping any dispute or security leak private is basically impossible. These advances also make it easier to resolve the disasters that are leaked through the same means. The companies who faced major PR disasters in 2017 are commendable for facing the negative feedback and complaints with such poise. But what are their secrets in restoring their reputation and having a consistent, positive relationship with the public? Here are some steps to expertly regain your reputation:

Accept and own the problem

The best way to begin repairing your reputation is to keep your mind off the problem and its consequences. Acceptance is the first step in the grieving process, which makes it the first step to personal healing and to repairing damage done to a business. You have to fully accept the fact that the damage has been done and simply start acting towards repairing your public appearance.

Stay out in front to control the damage

As you acknowledge the mistakes and the issue itself, you must monitor all the news and media updates concerning your company in order to stay on top of all the publicity to address each issue. As news and media updates are being monitored, steps must be taken to prevent future incidents. Services such as fraud detection with Confluent can guarantee prevention of damages from internal PR disasters in the future, but you must focus on the issue at hand at the same time. Not all disasters from external sources can be prevented, but considering almost all PR crises stem from an interaction with the company in some way, establishing policies and practices that will help prevent incidents in the future is essential. Meanwhile, your PR team should check the current status of your reputation towards the public. They must be constantly analyzing those updates and commentaries in order to more easily regain the trust of the people with the perfect words and perfect marketing strategy to counteract all the negative publicity.

Seek supportive friends

These types of problems usually root from your own network of connections. They know you the best and know the easiest way to profit from your mishaps. This often happens because someone plants the seeds of malice towards someone else, which malice ends up being spread to more people and may eventually lead to the gossip being altered for the worst. This is where you need to evaluate who your real friends are by talking to those who heard the gossip or caused the disaster. If your company got a PR disaster due to an event and not a person, then look for the select few who can assist and be with you during the times that you are ruined. The real friends will assist you, never change the way they look at you, and will always treat you well even when you had a terrible PR disaster.

Show empathy—and that you’ve learned a lesson

There is no need to newly promote yourself because people are not likely to believe you at this point. Instead, show the public you’re empathetic to their situation. As a business, offer something to compensate for the problem. Compensations often help reduce the heat of a PR disaster as people respond well to businesses actively doing positive things for their consumers to right their wrongs, especially if the business’s former reputation was already positive before the PR incident set in. There are some companies who have done this as an empathetic way to compensate the victims of certain disasters like flight crashes. One such example was Lufthansa’s compensation of more than just 50,000 euros for every victim when one of its planes crashed. Compensations are the best way to say sorry without worrying too much about saying the perfect words to smooth everything over.

After you’ve worked through these steps, you need to start setting up a good plan that will change the minds of the public. You can provide more efficient service, make better products, or give some promotional freebies like a newly launched business would. It is never too late to catch up with damage control and reputation recovery after a PR disaster. After recovering from your current crisis, make sure you take the necessary precautions to prevent any possible disasters in the future.

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Brett Clawson

Brett is a 43-year-old father of 2 boys with a degree in Business Management. In his free time, he enjoys learning about emerging business trends and writing about how to incorporate them into new and existing businesses.

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