media update's Taylor Goodman takes a look at three steps on how to mend a brand’s reputation after facing a PR disaster. 

In today’s socially conscious society, it is almost as if businesses are walking on eggshells trying to avoid getting themselves in hot water.

Be it offensive online conduct, being accused of mistreating employees or sharing a distasteful marketing campaign, the different crises that a business can be faced with during its lifespan are countless. This makes it pertinent that these brands have a solid crisis communication plan in place if (and when) things get rough. 

Recovery after crisis is often overlooked in a crisis communication plan in favour of dealing with the situation at hand. However, once the thick of the matter has blown over, it leaves the brand’s reputation in need of serious repair. 

Now, let’s look at three steps that a brand in distress can take to regain their reputation:

1. Accept responsibility 

In the case of a PR disaster, the worst thing that a brand can do is wait for a situation to blow over. Rather, the first step in mending a brand’s reputation is by accepting responsibility. Avoid being the brand that hides behind its excuses. 

In order to move forward, your business needs to take ownership for what has happened and make a conscious effort to make reparations. This is the first step that every business must take towards rebuilding the trust of its stakeholders and clients. 

A simple way for your brand to accept responsibility is by getting ahead of the situation and make a public and transparent apology; but more on that next.

2. Be proactive

Once the business has accepted that they have made a mistake, the next step is to be proactive and have a quick response. 

In the social media age, news travels fast. This is why it is of the utmost importance that the brand stays on top of things. They need to be able to get the right message out there and to take control of the press’s narrative before any negative stories are released. 

When releasing a public apology, the PR pro should:
  • be authentic and sincere: Easily the most important thing when making a public apology is being sincere. An audience will be able to sniff out when you're not being insincere right away. To avoid this, make sure you use comfortable language and not rigid business talk; above all, speak from the heart. 
  • utilise social media as a platform: Social media allows you to reach your consumers easily, making it the perfect place to post an apology. Also, if you put your apology out there, it allows you to control the narrative in the social sphere. 
  • explain what they are going to do to solve the problem: Aside from an apology, a brand should state what they are going to do to prevent making the same mistakes in the future. However, businesses should avoid making empty promises that can take away from the validity of an apology, and 
  • not make excuses: Another thing that can detract from an apology is making excuses. Don’t blame others for your brand’s mistakes. Rather, take accountability for what has happened. Being transparent will help you to rebuild trust with your consumers as they will view your apology as more genuine.   

3. Work on rebuilding trust with your consumers

When working on rebuilding a client’s reputation after a scandal of crisis, you need to remember that you also need to work on rebuilding the trust that was lost with your customers. This can be done with empathy and honesty

In a situation where trust is broken, honesty is the best policy. Do not embellish, withhold details or write press releases that are filled with complicated corporate jargon, as this can make your business look even worse in consumers’ eyes. 

Rather be human, transparent and empathetic in your approach about what has happened. This will go leaps and bounds in rebuilding trust with your audience. 

The next step in rebuilding trust is the brand showing empathy. This can be done by showing that they have learnt a lesson and that they are trying to rectify the issue and avoid future mishaps. 

A brand can additionally rectify the issue by offering some sort of gesture or compensation. For example, if a brand has insensitive messaging in a marketing campaign, they can donate to charities or funds related to the group that they have offended. 

PR pros, what special tips and tricks do you use when helping a client to rebuild their reputation? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

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Now that you know what to do after a crisis, learn how to avoid them by reading Three things PR pros need to do to avoid a crisis: SA edition here. 

*Image courtesy of Pixabay