Reputation is perhaps one of the most unfair aspects that any of us have to deal with. That’s because, even if we were to do everything right, and exactly as we’re supposed to, our reputation remains outside of our control. For the most part, at least. We can’t control what others say about us. But we can control how we respond to situations.
Recovering From Reputational Damage
Every person – and every business – will likely suffer a reputation hit at one point or another. Sometimes, it’s clear what’s happened. Perhaps an employee violated company policy. Or maybe a high profile individual shared a controversial social media post online. In other cases, reputational damage might occur out of malicious intent.
Sometimes, this will be a mild blip on the radar. At other times, it could be a significant blow. It happens. We can’t always prevent it. But we can ensure we understand the most effective tactics for taking matters into our own hands and recovering quickly.
Here are our top 5 tips for recovering efficiently following a blow to your reputation:
- Understand if you Need to Recover
Suffering a reputation hit can be very emotional and stressful. And the anxiety you feel regarding the situation can make it difficult to clearly see the severity of the situation. It’s very easy to blow everything out of proportion and see the situation as worse than it actually is, which can mean you’re not choosing the best course of action for recovery.
While challenging, the first way to recover from reputational damage is to bring in some fresh eyes and assess what’s really going on. Try to separate the actual event that resulted in the damage from any spiraling gossip and assumption. You may find that your big reputational blow is little more than a blip that doesn’t need to be addressed.
- Be Realistic
You may think that recovering from reputational damage means making the news go away. And sometimes it does. But the truth is that, if you’ve been photographed somewhere you shouldn’t have been, or there’s hard evidence of you doing something you shouldn’t, you need to be realistic about what reputation recovery will look like.
There is more than one way to recover from reputational damage. And for some, the best course of action will not be to make yourself the ‘good guy’ but to acknowledge wrongdoing and generate a thoughtful and well-planned out response to being the ‘bad guy’. Lying as a recovery method doesn’t resolve the problem; it simply masks it.
- Develop a Strategy
If you do wish to respond to the situation, there are two main options. The first is public response. This can be a suitable recovery method in situations where your actions may have resulted in some form of damage or hurt to others. It shows that you acknowledge what’s happened, and provides an opportunity to show you’ve learned from your error.
The other strategy is to take more of a ‘behind the scenes’ approach. This may include employing SEO tactics to push harmful online content further down the search engine results page to reduce visibility, or promoting more positive content. You may even be eligible to apply to have links removed under the ‘Right to be Forgotten’ EU initiative.
- Share Your Story
One way to recover from a reputation blow is to share your side of the story. This is different to offering a public response, and instead provides you with an opportunity to answer questions asked over social media, and engage with those who want to know more. However, if choosing this recovery method, you must choose your battles wisely.
This recovery technique can go either way. By carefully selecting which questions or content you respond to, you can help to reduce the overall impact. But by saying the wrong thing, becoming frustrated, or entering into arguments, you could undo all of your hard work. It can be useful to delegate social media responses to professionals.
- Change the Conversation
As Don Draper once famously said in Mad Men, ‘if you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation’. Our final tip for recovering from a reputational blow is to take action, do something different, and change what people currently find interesting about you. This can be the easiest way to change the ‘hot’ topic of conversation.
For example, you could announce a new project or initiative, share details of a new partnership or create plans for charity/volunteer work. Whatever you choose should be positive, and most importantly of all, it should be news that’s easy for people to find. Market and promote your news strategically and comprehensively for max visibility.
At Balanced Media, we can provide support and assistance across all five methods. We’re here to help you assess whether you need to take action and, if you do, determine which course of action will be most effective in rebuilding your image.