Wrangling your reputation when things go awry 

You’ve likely heard of reputation management, or its virtual cousin, online reputation management or ORM. Reputation management aims to limit the amount of damage caused by an unfortunate incident by taking active steps to avoid a foreseeable problem. Or, to cool a situation down once it occurs. The hope, of course, is that your reputation will not sustain lasting damage. And it won’t, if you do it right.

How a business or organization responds to controversy tells a lot about their brand. Think about your business as a person. If you get it wrong, are criticized, or make a public error, do you get defensive and deny it or ignore that it’s happening? Or do you show your human side, and:

  1. Own it
  2. Apologize for it
  3. Tell why it won’t happen again

At Jet, we believe in taking the human approach to rep management. While people might still be upset, they’ll appreciate that you took the high road and owned your mistake and are willing to change, thereby keeping your integrity—and your reputation—intact.

Here’s a real live example of this playing out. Jackie, our beloved leader, recently ordered a dress for a special occasion from Nordstrom Rack. While usually prompt, this time things went wrong. Here’s the email she received. They followed Jet’s 3 rep management steps to a T:

I am truly sorry, Jackie. Why you are seeing what you are seeing is that we are experiencing some delays in our shipping. (1. Own it) I fully understand your pain and frustration with the delay, this was a very embarrassing situation for us to be in. (2. Apologize for it) Because of this embarrassment, we are directing all of our resources to repair the current backlog, as well as make sure that we are planning better for the future. We want to make sure that you will never have to worry about our ability to ship your orders in a timely fashion again. (3. Tell why it won’t happen again)

Our 3 steps apply mostly to errors and problems, so we employ other rep management techniques—such as being up front, honest and inclusive, responding quickly, and softening the blow with good prep work—in other situations.

At Jet, we help our clients with rep management on an ongoing basis. We’ve helped troubleshoot data breaches, cool down public outcry on dollars spent, unify employees around new names and logos, instill confidence after past errors, and prepare neighbors for new development projects.

Here are three examples:

New look, simplified

One of our clients had the same logo and look & feel since they opened in the 80s. Leaders were hesitant to make a change for fear the public or employees of this small town wouldn’t like it or see it as necessary. We helped them succeed by including employees in planning the public open house that unveiled the new look, and by holding a pre-event for employees—with special gifts bearing the new logo—before the public open house began. At the employee event, we included a FAQ on why the new look was needed, how it better reflected who they were today, and how it was paid for out of the general budget. We also included a talking points sheet for employees to use with the public to explain the change. This meant the message would be consistent. By being upfront about the need for the change and softening the blow by including employees in the process, the transition was not only smooth, but fun. Giving out teddy bears to the first 100 kids who came didn’t hurt, either.

Videos pave the way

One of our larger hospitals is located in an area where the economy is down. With many people out of work, it seemed a bad time for the hospital to spend money on renovations, but

they were sorely needed. The patient rooms had not been updated for 30 years and were small, outdated and ill-equipped. At the same time, hospital leaders were receiving feedback from surveys that the hospital spent money unnecessarily. To shift that reputation, and to bring home the need for the renovations, the hospital included patients and employees in the design of the new rooms. We proposed creating videos to run on their website, at events, and also as clips on social media sites that showed employees and patients explaining the need. Doing so created buy in by showing the human side of the project—hearing friends and neighbors tell how the renovations improved care and comfort for patients.

Data breach, bettered

Another client experienced a data breach which became public. We got the call after hours, but we were able to talk through our 3 steps, and provided language to use in response to social media posts—recommending they respond to each and every email received. We also recommended a temporary hotline for people to call and ask questions and talk through concerns.

Hopefully you won’t find yourself in need for rep management anytime soon, but if you do, apply Jet’s 3 steps or give us a call for help.

 

 


3Lynn Nichols, Copywriter, Publication Specialist

Lynn once sent her ‘out of office’ message to everyone on her email list by mistake. She managed this error with a red face, a follow-up apology, a sleepless night and a vow to never set an ‘out of office’ message again.


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