Crafting the Ideal Apology

Sections of this topic

    Say you’re sorry like you mean it

    It’s common to make mistakes. What’s far less common is an organization that knows how give a serious and genuine apology. Thankfully for these clueless companies, tech-based business consultant Anne Weiskopf published her “Six Keys to an Apology in Crisis Management” in a SpinSucks article:

    1. Address the issue quickly.
      • “Silence is not an option in social media” – C.C. Chapman
    2. Even if it is not directly your fault, apologize for it anyway.
      • No, you no longer control your brand and yes, you’re still 100% responsible for its success” – Duane Primozich
    3. Intent matters; people are more likely to forgive an honest mistake.
      • Apologize, don’t justify.
    4. Identify the steps that are being (or will be) taken to fix the problem.
    5. Pick the right medium for you to be most effective. A well written apology trumps a badly delivered video message.
    6. Continuously monitor all social and non-social channels so you can continue to address the issue further if needed.

    Step number one is, as it should be, the most important part of the entire apology. While insisting you’ll do things differently may buy some time, the fall will be all the worse later if you don’t actually fix the root of the problem.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. , an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is a writer, publicist and SEO associate for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]