It’s true. Everyone makes mistakes. Big Bird sang a whole song about it. In business, however, mistakes can cost you the reputation of your entire brand. A DUI charge, embezzlement charges, sexual harassment charges; any criminal allegation that results in someone going to prison is a problem for your reputation. Below are some things to keep in mind should you find yourself in hot water.
Fess -up: Nobody appreciates a liar. Denying your mistake and hoping it will go away will never serve you well. Neither will trying to place the blame on someone else. There will always be a reporter willing to dig up the truth and make you look even worse. Admitting and taking full responsibility for your mistake is the first step in rebuilding trust with the public.
Apologize: Offer a sincere apology. Say how terrible you feel for having caused so much grief to others. If you don’t mean it, then you are a psychopath and no one can help you. Stop reading here.
Pay restitution to victims: Use all financial resources available to you to provide compensation to those who suffered because of your actions. This is a very important gesture and a must-do; no matter what. If you don’t pay, then you are not owning the mistake and no one will trust you ever again.
Send out a good will gesture: Now that you have made such a serious mistake, you need to rebuild people’s confidence in you. Do whatever you need to do to make people confident that you will never make that mistake again. If you don’t do this, you will look like a narcissist.
Become known for better things: While your mistake may have had a tremendous impact on you and others, you don’t want it to be the first thing people think of when they think of you and your brand. Do great things to demonstrate your ongoing commitment to making the world a better place. Be sure the media knows what you are doing and consider them an ally rather than an enemy. At the end of the day, the media just wants to tell a story. News is news. Be the good story in the news.
Renée Cormier is a Public Relations and Communications Professional. Need to improve your company’s reputation? Renée can help. Visit www.reneecormier.com for more information.