7 Ways to Recover After a Reputation Crisis

Recovering from a publicity nightmare is a difficult task. Knowing where to start and how to rebuild is important to surviving the crisis.

Entrepreneur has written a great post on this important topic.

7 Ways to Recover After a Reputation Crisis

Several times a week, I receive an urgent email along these lines: “I think I need to hire you. Google my name and you’ll see why.” These individuals’ financial and legal representatives are struggling to help them repair damage to their good name after an incident or event.

If you’re an investor, publicist, agent or attorney, you might work with clients who find themselves in the crosshairs of a personal reputation crisis. The list of possible reasons is endless, and I’ve heard them all. Maybe you’re advising a client who’s experienced one (or more) of these situtations:

  • Violated company policy.
  • Been accused of defamation or libel.
  • Said something inappropriate in a media interview.
  • Posted or shared something offensive online.
  • Been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Angered former employees, investors, reporters or love interests who’ve taken to social media for revenge.

Reputation repair is a subspecialty within reputation management. And it’s getting greater attention in our current climate due to the #MeToo movement, higher scrutiny of corporate executives and the visibility of social media. These factors exponentially have elevated demand for individuals to live authentic, culturally acceptable lives whose careers embody that same meaning. But sometimes they don’t.

Crisis is inevitable when public perception of an individual’s value and contributions conflict with who he or she wants to be. It’s a very public type of dissonance. Reputation-management specialists are trained to help people navigate options, design proactive strategies, manage the emotional rollercoaster and recover after the dust settles.

It can be challenging to wake from a perception nightmare. My clients’ names, companies, careers and livelihoods are in jeopardy unless we can resolve the issue or repair the damage. Sometimes we must pivot, changing how the individual is seen in a specific market, with online audiences, within a company or in a home community at-large. In these cases, I often wish I’d been involved earlier to help minimize negative impact or avoid larger missteps.

In the words of Warren Buffett, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

Several reputation-repair companies propose a two-pronged digital approach: They’ll manipulate Google algorithms so critical posts don’t show up first and then spin a story to change the way an individual is seen publicly. They charge a lot of money for this work. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

It’s true that clients need quick triage. But they also need long-term solutions to right their reputations, for good. Here’s how — with examples from real-life clients whose specific details have been changed to protect confidentiality.


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