Improving Your Online Reputation After A Crisis
Individuals and businesses alike can fall victim to attacks on their online reputations. Regardless of the truthfulness of the accusations, the court of public opinion can turn on someone in the blink of an eye. If you or your business is caught in a reputation crisis, the best course of action is to immediately take steps to defend yourself and improve your online image.
Your Reputation Improvement Strategy
To protect your business from unpleasant surprises, make sure you have a strategy for defending yourself against vicious online attacks. Don’t just hope the problem will go away on its own. When you find yourself facing a crisis, here’s the best strategy:
- What’s the damage?
- Don’t expect an overnight improvement
- Develop a media strategy
- Separate work and emotions
- Know when to stop
1) What’s The Damage?
As unpleasant as it may be, start by assessing the damage already done. Google yourself and check social media for what people are saying about you. How widespread and severe is the criticism? How much are your name and online presence associated with the problem?
Pro Tip: If you can only find a few attacks on your reputation and they appear to be originating from non-credible sources, you probably don’t need to spend much (if any) effort refuting them. Learn to recognize a credible threat.
2) Don’t Expect An Overnight Improvement
This principle is twofold. First, don’t expect your reputation to mend itself in a short amount of time. Bad news travels much faster online than good news. While you can certainly get your side of the story out and do public damage control, it will take a while to completely set things right.
Second, be aware of how serious your reputation crisis is. Bad reviews or easily disproven lies are one thing, but if you find yourself accused of serious crimes, be ready for a long battle. Don’t expect the world to take your side immediately. You’ll have to choose your strategy carefully.
3) Develop A Media Strategy
This goes both for social and traditional media. What will you say to interviewers or post on social media? More importantly, how often will you take advantage of either avenue? Don’t fall into the extremes of completely withdrawing from the public eye or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, spending every spare moment on social media. Develop a strategy and stick to it.
Part of your strategy should involve monitoring any and all reviews of your business. Respond to negative reviews gracefully and publically, offering an answer or resolution to problems the review addresses. This will communicate that you care not only to the individual, but also to anyone else reading your reviews.
4) Separate Work And Emotions
No matter how hurtful and vicious the attacks on your reputation get, responding in kind will only harm your case. Keep your public interactions and reputation management professional and factual. Don’t publically air your stress or anger to people who will just use it against you. If you’re able to maintain a level head in the face of your crisis, people will be more likely to listen to you.
5) Know When To Stop
Finally, don’t turn reputation management into your sole life focus. People have gone bankrupt or gotten divorced because they couldn’t focus on anything but restoring their good name in the court of public opinion. As you work to build a good reputation again, don’t lose sight of the rest of your life.
More importantly, know when you’re fighting a losing battle. In some extreme cases, your name and image are so deeply connected to a scandal that you may never completely recover your original standing. Know when to start over with a new online reputation and distance yourself from the original crisis.
In a world where public perception holds almost as much weight as legal rulings, long term damage control will take a lot of time and effort. But a PR crisis doesn’t have to spell the end of your business or online activities. Approach your new reputation management strategy carefully and stay aware of what others online say about you. With time, things should improve.
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