3 April 2021|Crisis Management, Latest Posts, Legals & Compliance, Psychology
By Roz Sheldon, Managing Partner and Head of Client Services at Igniyte, a reputation management company. Warren Beatty said that it takes five minutes to ruin a hard-earned reputation and that has never been truer of today. The internet, social media and the 24-hour news cycle has made being in the public eye a less forgiving place. It is now much more likely that a personal misdemeanour will be commentated on or shared across social media.
We all think it won’t happen to us, but a personal reputation crisis can happen for any number of reasons and at any time. If you’re a high-net worth individual or your business worth is tied to your reputation, then it is always best to have a plan in place, but often, it is not something that is thought about, until it’s too late.
If a personal crisis hits there are steps that can be taken to minimise the impact that it would have on long-term reputation. Roz Sheldon, Managing Partner and Head of Client Services at Igniyte, a reputation management company offers her top tips on how to manage if a personal crisis hits.
Your hard-earned reputation matters to you and at some point, we all deal with a stressful life event or personal crisis that can impact our ability to focus on work. But what happens if it’s something that makes its way into the public arena. A personal crisis can be any number of things, a violation of company policy, perhaps there has been an accusation of defamation or libel, or you’ve been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. It could stem from disgruntled former employees, investors or reporters who have taken to the internet to express their feelings and post negative comments. When a personal crisis hits it can be unfair and devastating.
Stories have the potential to go viral given the right time and place, or if a related story is currently in the news. A personal crisis can impact what your investors, employees, friends and family think about you. It’s important to plan for a crisis and put steps in place to minimise the impact on your professional life. If you’re affected personally it is easy to make a snap decision and take action without fully assessing the situation.
You need a short-term plan to deal with the immediate problem: which may include doing nothing and a long-term strategy to start rebuilding your reputation. So, how do you go about dealing with a personal crisis:
Accept the situation and acknowledge the problem.
By being truthful and transparent in all communications it shows respect and dignity. Separate the emotions (even though it will be hard) – separate feelings from facts.
Assess the damage.
How visible is any negative comment or content and who has seen it? Conduct a thorough reputation audit and assess the digital impact. The first page of Google is the most important as it counts for 95% of your website traffic and 90% of people admit to only looking at the first page before they form an impression. Set up alerts for key search terms so you’re notified as soon as anything appears. Check social media and other platforms, such as reviews, forums etc. Think about the impact this has had on your business and reputation. This evaluation will give you a base line to start from.
Be proactive in developing a crisis management strategy.
Step back from the situation and think about the different aspects that are damaging your reputation. Think about each one in turn and devise a strategy to minimise that damage and protect your personal and business brand.
Plan your media strategy.
Not every situation needs a proactive media statement, but you should have a strategy in place for possible crisis scenarios. This should also detail who is best placed to deliver any statement or further information consistently and via which channel. In some cases, it might be best to withdraw completely from online activity and not respond to media enquiries in the first instance. Any strategy needs to be communicated internally to minimise risk and incorrect or confused communication.
Take control of the narrative as fast as possible, and before anyone else can. Own the problem and show how your taking active steps to resolve the matter. Always be truthful, but don’t respond with emotions. Just facts. Google makes things stick around for a long time.
Set realistic goals and expectations.
Understand the reality of what you can achieve by yourself. Your personal brand might need a relook, or a complete rebuild. Think about what you can do and whether you need outside help. Reputation management companies can offer guidance and expertise. They are also neutral when assessing any potential damage which can be reassuring. They will be able to remain impartial and offer the best way to look at the bigger picture.
A personal reputation crisis can leave you feeling powerless and the shame can be devastating but a smart reputation management strategy will give you the long-term building blocks to counter any issue. By addressing it directly, the damage can be minimised. Ensure any moves made are honest as they could have the potential to reverse any negative press. Think about the future, and how building a good solid reputation management is cornerstone to countering any negative publicity in the future.
About the Author:
Roz Sheldon is Managing Partner and Head of Client Services at Igniyte, a reputation management company