Welcome back to another episode with Zack Condry, president at Everest Communications. In the last episode, we discussed the importance of a crisis management system. Today, we’re going to discuss how we can rebuild our reputation if it is damaged.
We will cover the following key takeaways:
- Those who love us already are much more likely to forgive us and defend us than those who don’t.
- Before we make a statement or apology, we should look at the data.
- Our website is not our front door. Google is.
- In order to “get rid” of negative search results, we have to bury them with positive ones.
- An ounce of prevention can be better than a pound of cure.
How to Mend Our Reputation
As we discussed in the last episode with Zack, we can prepare for future disasters before they even happen. While we can’t plan for all crises, we can plan for mistakes that have happened in the past, either to us or other companies in our industry. We can look at how the company successfully or unsuccessfully managed the crisis and create a plan based on their experience.
We should also focus on creating strong brand loyalty and love. “It is incredibly beneficial for an organization to build up brand love [and] brand loyalty before the crisis so that you have people that come to your defense,” Zack said. “That definitely blunts that trauma and helps you come out of the crisis.”
Strong brand loyalty can provide us with a safety net. If we do something wrong, those who love us already will be much more likely to forgive us and defend us than those who don’t.
Zack once worked with a company that produced very popular TV shows. A hacker once threatened to pre-release one of their shows and eventually leaked it. While the company was prepared for the backlash, they were able to recover from the incident much easier than they thought. Their customers loved their company and TV show so much, they defended them.
“The [customers] didn’t want the show leaked [and] they loved the show so much that they actually bought it back and that totally changed the ballgame,” Zack said.
A crisis management system doesn’t only help us prevent major problems; it also helps us fix them. With a proper system in place, we can mend our reputation when it is damaged and reduce our recovery time.
The first thing we should look at is the data. The three main things we can look at are the volume, tradectory, and sentiment of the issue. Do many people already know about the mistake? Is news coverage increasing or decreasing? How quickly? We should watch to see if the issue is dying down or getting worse before we step in and make any sort of statement.
“Watch [the data] and then pick your opportunity to come back into the environment,” Zakc said. “Maybe apologize; it’s all dependent upon the situation and industry, but look at the data first. If you go in guns blazing before it’s died down, you’re probably going to make it worse.”
Managing Search Results and Reviews
If we have encountered a true crisis, there is going to be news articles about it. The issue will be in the public eye.
“There’s going to be negativity online,” Zakc said. “We must consider search. Social is important, but social is transient, dynamic, [and] engagement specific. However, something like Wikipedia, search, Reddit to a lesser extent, Glassdoor, Yelp, etc., all [of] these things stick around. Those are the ones we need to manage first and foremost.”
A social media post will likely lose relevance quickly. It gets hidden among other posts and stops appearing on the main feed after time. However, reviews on Google or Yelp, or negative news articles ranked high in Google, won’t disappear as fast.
“Your website is not . . . your front door. It’s Google,” Zack said. “People don’t type in “Target.com.” They just type in “Target” into Chrome and whatever pops up, pops up.”
Managing negative search results and news articles can be hard, especially because individuals and organizations cannot remove them. “The only thing you can do is put additional positivity into the environment,” Zack said.
In order to “get rid” of negative search results, we have to bury them in positive news articles, blog posts, related trade associations, etc. We should get enough good stuff that it pushes down the bad.
We can also keep in mind that having a few negative articles about us or reviews, isn’t the end of the world. People aren’t expecting 100% positive reviews of a company. When you look at an Amazon book and they have 100% positive reviews, you may think the company isn’t completely honest. Sometimes you need some negative comments to give you authenticity and credibility.
The key is to have an overwhelming number of positives to counteract the negative. It takes patience and a high pain tolerance. We have to learn to be okay with some negative articles out there.
Zack once worked with a professional sports organization that had inappropriate pictures and videos released online because a couple individuals who worked for their organization weren’t careful enough. There were likely millions of global fans who knew these individuals and saw the posts.
The owner and founder of the organization decided to hire someone to train their athletes about personal branding to avoid any future crises. Zack came in and started to train their athletes on social media hygiene and protection. He explained to them that any photo or video sent from their phone is no longer their own so they have to be careful with what they send.
These educational meetings helped the company avoid future problems. Since Zack and his team came in, he believes they haven’t had another issue since.
Often, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. We should deal with issues in advance instead of always having to play catch up to fix the problems.
Connect with Zack
Thank you so much Zack for sharing your stories and insights with us today. To learn more about or connect with Zack: