How to Navigate a Severe Reputational Crisis

Navigating a severe reputational crisis can be a nightmare for any communications expert. Such a crisis can be anything, from a data breach to a failed campaign or employee-related issues. Due to the ever demanding nature of social audiences, if the crisis is handled the wrong, it can have a negative impact on the company’s reputation. 

While no one ever plans to have a crisis, we have put together some tips to help you avoid it and in the situation where it does happen, these tips will help you to prevent the crisis from escalating.

Before the Crisis

The best strategy is to prepare ahead before any crisis actually occurs. Here’s how you can do that:

  • Create positive content about your brand

What do people get to see when they google your company? Invest in SEO to make sure that at least the first page of the Google search brings up your brand website, social media accounts, external publications, and customer reviews where your company is presented in a good light. If something terrible happens, your SEO-optimized pages will provide a balanced perspective about your company and its track record.  

  • Monitor social media

Constantly monitor your social media handles and ensure you stay connected with customers regularly. Social media listening and a few valuable tools will give you data-driven insights on any social media trends related to your company. This will allow you to stay on top of conversations related to your brand and it will also allow you to take timely measures to avoid any scandal.


During the Crisis

Despite our best efforts, crisis can happen at any time. The strategy to adopt during a crisis will depend on the nature of the crisis itself but these tips will help:

  • Choose a strategy and instruct your employees

In most cases, honesty is the best option. Leaving no comment or placing the blame on someone else may not be the bests approach. However, you also shouldn’t make a statement in a hurry either. The company’s reputation might be affected further if you need to change important details in that statement later on. What you should do is gather all the details and brainstorm the most reasonable solution for the situation. You should also inform your employees about the situation and let them know who is supposed to speak on the company’s behalf to make sure you present a unified front.

  • Keep tabs on your brand’s social mentions

Use monitoring and listening tools that allow you to track your brand’s social and digital mentions. It will also be great to have a sentiment analysis too. These valuable insights will help you yo stay in control the narrative of the crisis. We should also add that it is important to let your loyal customers know that you do not take their opinion for granted. In addition, you should make sure that you have a strategy for dealing with negative comments and content about your company. 

  • Frame your statement

Be conscious of how you frame your statement. Your statement must show empathy and responsibility. Depending on the particular situation, an attempt to place the blame on any third party may lead to an increase in public outrage. If your company is in any way responsible for the situation, apologize genuinely and take ownership.  While this won’t stop the backlash completely, it allows you to maintain the integrity of the your company.

  • Never, ever lose your cool.

Whatever you do, don’t go off on your audience on social media. It won’t end well even though you may feel justified in doing so. Provide the most accurate information possible and do your best to respond to questions and comments from your audience and customers. Keep reiterating your company’s commitment to dealing with the issue and steps being taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again. This will help to win the confidence of your loyal customers. 

It may not look like it but a reputational crisis does not have to be the end of a brand. When handled properly, it can provide a good learning curve for you as a professional and for your organisation.


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