A brand must be prepared for a possible reputation crisis caused by its influencers or spokespeople. To be as prepared as possible, here are some steps to take should a reputation crisis occur.

Alerts

It’s a simple and easy step, but oftentimes, one that gets forgotten. Find an alert system that works for you. There are a variety of options: free alert systems, paid ones, comprehensive systems, but decide on one and get it functioning. If you want to thoroughly research the matter before committing to one that charges, then set up a free alert system like Google Alerts in the interim.

Start with your company name, the name of any product tied strongly to your brand, the CEO’s name and the name of anyone who represents your company or products. You might also want to establish a designated person to receive and monitor any notifications.

Research and plan

Your brand’s influencers should be carefully researched and methodically selected before you ever put an agreement in place. Don’t rush into any deals. You are about to trust them with your brand’s good name and a reputation you may have spent years developing. Spend some time with them if possible and talk to people they know.

Once you’ve done the research and know a bit more about the person, determine the most likely situations that could cause problems and make a plan for each of them. Build press release templates, figure out what the best response would be to proposed situations and anyone harmed, what might be needed by them immediately, etc. If you are prepared for all plausible circumstances, your brand is more likely to experience a more favorable outcome should a crisis arise.

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Responding

When an applicable alert is received, do not delay or hesitate. It is imperative to react quickly. Contact the influencer immediately, allowing for a unified presentation. If their demeanor is alarming or they avoid you, look at how to support them while distancing your brand.

Don’t try to act like nothing happened. Face the issue and respond accordingly. If you need to fix something, explain something or contact someone, then do it. Whatever you do, do not avoid a crisis and do not wait around for someone to come up with a solution to your problem. Own it and fix it – quickly.

Apologize

Never forget the power of those simple and heartfelt words – “I’m sorry.” Show you are sincere by following the apology with the best thing you can think of to help anyone who has been wronged to move forward. It’s your job to show your humanity and build a bridge of understanding by letting people know you care and want to do what you can to make it better.

Moving forward

Once you have dealt with the crisis, helped where you can and apologized, there’s a final step to seal the deal. Moving forward, you need to be transparent, especially with anything relating to the crisis. Falling once can be a recoverable situation – falling a second time becomes infinitely more difficult to gain back lost ground.

Show your humanity, your vulnerability, your willingness to make it right and then show your honor by being transparent.

 

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder & Chairman of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently owned PR firms in the United States. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth and vision, with the agency earning accolades including being named a Top 50 Global PR Agency by PRovoke Media, a top three NYC PR agency by O'Dwyers, one of Inc. Magazine's Best Workplaces and being awarded multiple American Business Awards, including a Stevie Award for PR Agency of the Year. With over 25 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected public relations executives. Throughout his career he has advised leading and high-growth businesses, organizations, leaders and boards across corporate, technology and consumer industries. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications. He has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly in the media and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. Torossian's strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, a Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a recipient of Crain's New York Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Outside of 5W, Torossian serves as a business advisor to and investor in multiple early stage businesses across the media, B2B and B2C landscape. Torossian is the proud father of two daughters. He is an active member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of multiple not for profit organizations.