I continue to see programs teaching leaders and organizations how to recover from a PR crisis. The demand for this advice seems to be a bottomless pit.
It’s inevitable that people and organizations eventually screw up. Your response has the power to make it OK again or dig you in way deeper. There’s a basic formula for recovery, and it’s pretty much the same in every circumstance.
- Admit relatively quickly that you messed up. (Do this even if the lawyers say not to—the damage to trust in your brand has real dollar value that’s likely greater than potential legal liability.)
- Apologize for what you did—not for what someone thought you did or how they felt about what you did, but for what you actually did. Do not make excuses or try to minimize what happened.
- Explain why it happened—or if you don’t know, describe what you will do to get the answer to that question.
- Say what you will do or change to make sure it never happens again.
One more thought: Even if you think you’re in the right, if the rest of the world thinks you screwed up then probably you did. Get it out of your head that if you just explain it enough times, everyone will magically see it your way.
And to quote a line from a childhood song: “That’s all there is. There ain’t no more.”