When Your Brand Becomes A Brick
The recent fallout following scandals involving ‘Full Houses’” Lori Loughlin and “Empire’s” Jussie Smollett left not just these individuals, but their fellow castmates, in turmoil. With each passing moment as the details of their individual incidents were investigated, their personal brands became like a brick – threatening to sink all those associated with them.
The reality is, these kinds of incidents aren’t just isolated to TV stars, politicians, and professional athletes. The immediacy and accessibility of information at all of our fingertips exponentially increases the likelihood of a communications crisis impacting you or your business.
Noting Google’s painfully infinite memory, what can you or your company do when scandal strikes? Below are a few simple, yet extremely vital, points to remember when your brand is under scrutiny.
When Scandal Strikes You
Think. Then speak. Immediately defending yourself in a crisis is not always the best policy. Remaining silent and allowing time to do the heavy lifting is often the best course of action. Should a public statement need to be made, lean on the support and guidance of your attorney and a reputable publicist to draft and deliver the statement.
Take a media break. Consuming social media, reading the news, or watching TV while enduring a crisis is bit like willfully drinking poison. Step away from public opinion — to preserve your own sanity, if nothing more. Depending on the severity of the crisis, you may need to turn off social media notifications or shut down your sites altogether until the matter is resolved. If your accounts remain active, update your passwords and security settings to protect against hacking. Also, be vigilant for imposter accounts.
Plan for a (potentially long) rebuilding phase. Whether it was a minor infraction or a major event, there’s no easy fix for negative media attention. Not having a strategic plan in place makes rebuilding a personal brand even more painful. Forgiveness doesn’t come easy, but it does come faster when you manage your response thoughtfully and begin the brand repair process as soon as possible.
When Scandal Strikes an Employee
Have a plan in place. In this day and age, having a crisis communication plan and an employee social media policy that addresses crisis communication is an absolute necessity. Be sure both plans address all audiences, external and internal. Those who are impacted by a crisis situation need to feel they are part of the team and know how to respond to possible inquiries.
Act quickly. In the eyes of the judging masses, seconds feel like days. When crisis strikes, have team members prepped to deploy information across all media channels as quickly as possible. If necessary, have your team practice crisis communication drills so they’re fully prepared when needed.
Remain consistent. How organizations elect to manage an employee scandal will vary with the culture. Whatever course of action your organization chooses, they must remain consistent. How the organization disperses information, responds to inquiries, and develops post-event content must also remain consistent.
A scandal doesn’t have to mean that your brand sinks to the abyss. Whether the employee or employer, remaining calm, rational, and authentic will always help keep you or your company’s head above water.