Warren Buffet famously said, “It takes years to build up a reputation while it takes minutes to destroy it.” He’s right. The success of your business entirely relies on your brand’s reputation. Without that key element, any business owner can expect failure.
Your reputation inspires trust and confidence in the consumer as well as your partners, drastically increasing your bottom line. A positive reputation also helps you attract better people to the company, increases the range of products customers buy, and gives you that ever difficult to assess edge of an intangible asset.
Many businesses, however, find themselves in times of peril at one point or another. It could be a legal dispute pertaining to anything from contracts to data breaches and false advertisement. It may have to do with discrimination, or perhaps the person handling your social media pages tweeted something heinous. Whatever the case may be, here are a few ways to recover from a reputation crisis.
Settle When You Can
In litigation situation, like premises liability claims in California, the best option to save any reputation you can is to settle outside of court. Disputes like these can drive deep rifts between your business and the parties or relationships it maintains.
Court cases are also costly while draining your energy, time, and resources. Finally, lawsuits tend to attract the eye of the public. The more publicity the suit receives, the lower your reputation is going to drop (whether you’re found guilty or innocent). Even if your organization is large enough to handle a lawsuit, always settle when you can.
Your Comms Department
It takes various types of communications professionals to rebuild your brand’s image. Public relations agents can help craft messages that will get your reputation through these trying times. New media professionals can create the ultimate social media campaign to reach the public. There are also crisis management experts who can handle your stakeholders and other company ties.
If you have communications professionals in place, this is the time to let them shine. They can help you decide whether to strike this issue swiftly or take a slow and steady approach based on what your audience needs and the nature of the situation.
Your Due Diligence
No matter what the mishap entailed, you need to rectify it as soon as possible. That could mean recalling defective products, issuing a statement about a rogue employee, or simply deleting a tweet. An apology must be made immediately, as well.
From there, it takes strong leadership and a voice of confidence to reassure the public that your reputation still stands. Presence, delivery, and the response itself are what have saved businesses from collapsing after a crisis.
You also need to ensure the same mistake won’t happen again. Make policy changes, switch suppliers, and fire someone if you have no other choice. Remember, the ultimate goal is to raise your reputation back up. Work closely with your HR and Comms department from start to finish, and you’ll be back on track in no time.