Don’t Let Reputation Damage Become Disaster

Sections of this topic

    You can’t cover up, so just come clean

    Crisis management can be like presidential politics: If you don’t set the record straight immediately and honestly, you can be out of the running in a flash. Perception quickly becomes reality and the negative consequences snowball. Case in point: Herman Cain.

    By failing to address allegations of sexual harassment in a straightforward manner with integrity, the story dogged him until he finally dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination. The list of personal and political situations that morphed from damage control to total disaster because of poor management is long and infamous: from world famous professional golfers to congressmen.

    This quote, from a SeaCoast Online article by Stefanie Guzikowski, is a perfect example of why covering up mistakes is never a wise choice.

    Let’s face it, when we hear “no comment,” we immediately think, “guilty.”

    What’s the reason for this?

    Well, it’s mostly true.

    With the way that crisis management has evolved, companies or individuals that clam up when facing scrutiny attract even more of that which they are trying to avoid. While the public has been proven more than willing to forget the mistakes of those who accept responsibility for their shortcomings, denial and cover ups are exposed with a ruthless efficiency, with the reputation of anyone caught in that trap taking a serious, sometimes permanently damaging, beating.

    So, when crisis comes your way, suck it up, admit you messed up, and tell people how you’re going to fix it. It sounds overly simple, but by sticking to that basic procedure you can navigate even the most difficult of crisis situations.

    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 Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]