With every public relations or advertising fail comes an organization’s quick efforts to recover from their mistakes. As the mistakes are revealed, an organization must begin to determine the most efficient way to recover from what they have done wrong to save and maintain their image as well as their reputation. Although damage control can be stressful, and at times difficult to manage, it is crucial for the long-term success of an organization. Columnists from Inc. compiled a list of what they feel are the three most important steps in a quick and efficient recovery from a PR fail.
1. “Be Frank and Fast”
Admitting your mistake is the first step in resolving the issue and recovering an organization’s brand image. Be frank with the audience and admit to your mistake; if an organization tries to deny an obvious wrongdoing the organization runs the risk of having their mistake come back to haunt them. In addition, address the problem as soon as attention is brought to the mistake. Whether it be a rogue tweet from a company’s Twitter or an offensive advertisement acknowledging the mistake as quickly as possible will help to boost an organizations morale and gain back their credibility from the audience.
2. “Admit Mistakes, Move On and Learn”
Shying away from obvious wrongdoings is not going to help an organization recover from the mistake they made. A person or organization doesn’t intentionally make a mistake, especially when it relates with their brand image, but learn from the mistake and move on. There is something to be learned with every mistake; an organization should work to understand what went wrong and be cautious not to repeat themselves. As Rebekah Epstein stated in the Huffington Post, “People don’t remember the mistakes you make; instead, they remember how you react to them.” Be wary of how you handle the situation. If an organization handles a advertisement fail with poise, it would most likely result in people thinking more highly of them for the way that the situation was handled.
3. “Correct Quickly”
The longer an organization takes to correct their mistake, the more opportunities they create for a larger audience to see what they did wrong. Correct the mistake quickly. Not only is it important to regain a brand’s image, but the longer a mistake is available for the public to view, the larger a window to offend an audience is open. In addition, the faster an organization corrects a mishap, the quicker they can get back to their normal routines within the company.
A company doesn’t intentionally produce an advertisement with the objective of offending their audience—it is the last thing they plan to do. However, a company can never predict exactly how their audience will react to their new marketing strategy or advertisements. Through Coordinated Management of Meaning, an organization’s audience creates their own opinions and views—the majority of which are based off of what other people think and say about it on the advertisements they produce. It is through the development of these opinions that an organization is able to determine if their new strategy was successful, or if the organization needs to begin the recovery process from a new advertising mishap. In the case of Mountain Dew, they felt that they were on the right track to a new and successful advertisement, they didn’t anticipate the overwhelming negative feedback they received in response to their advertisement. When the disapproval of the audience began to roll in, Mountain Dew officials worked to do what needed to be done in order to create a happy audience again.
How does this list compare with the rich rhetorical history of apologia or of face management? Seems like it might line up pretty well but are there differences in apologizing and face restoration in an age where the transgression is permanently “out there” unless they really have the power to pull the ad down from everywhere? And let’s remember, critical thinking in the board room to avoid a racist ad in the first place would probably be the best thing of all. Rhetorically sophisticated creatives don’t say “no” but they do say “how can we do this in a way that aligns with our strategic goals and doesn’t cause problems?”