All businesses and organizations can at some point come across a crisis in a public relations. Everybody is now under scrutiny from both the public and media. Some certain Industries do have an added reputational vulnerability, particularly airlines, Leisure, and tourism. And then, they are the politicians and the celebrities, of course. If disaster has struck, it is important that you know everything about repairing your online reputation.
If your company or you are facing a backlash from the public or the media, it is important that you know what to do. The way you handle a crisis will tell you whether you will make or break your reputation. After a crisis, your actions will determine whether you can recover a positive reputation or whether all is lost. It doesn’t matter whether the crisis was caused by something within or outside of your immediate control, whether it was bad luck, or whether it was a bad decision. What matters is that you do not knee-jerk but that you take appropriate action.
Repairing Your Online Reputation
There are numerous examples of big businesses facing significant reputational damage. An example is when United Airline came under fire for the way there security staff had handled a passenger. Another example is when Pepsi asked Kendall Jenner to hand a police officer a can of Pepsi, an action that was stolen from the Black Lives Matter movement. What this teaches us is that it is important that you are ready to respond to a crisis whenever it hits. Thankfully, there are quite specific actions that you can and should take. Those are:
- To acknowledge that there is a problem and to own it. People make mistakes and so do businesses. By being open and honest about that, you show the world that you were only human.
- To make sure that your shared values are shared across social media and other locations. Remind your customers who they know that you truly are.
- To emphasize with what has happened and offer solutions and actions.
- To promise that you are committed to making things right again.
- To take steps to prevent similar issues from happening in the future.
- To truly care about your reputation and how others see you.
In the United Airlines case, shares in the company film by 4% and perception of the brand drop slower than it had been in the past 10 years. Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse with United Airlines. They didn’t own up to their mistakes, instead denying boarding to two young women because they wore leggings. It can still rebuilt but this is going to be very difficult. Pepsi, by contrast, immediately pulled the ad and apologized. They took full responsibility for their actions and took quick and immediate positive steps. Damage has been done, but this is recoverable damage. People will remember that this happened but they will also remember that Pepsi tried to make things right again. A clear example of how to handle a crisis.