It’s time for some damage control!
One of the most difficult tasks for a company is rebuilding its reputation after it has been smeared. While it may feel like the end of the world, all hope is not lost. In fact, there are many things a company can do to improve its reputation, but be warned: building a positive reputation is rarely possible overnight. So, give it time and do your best.
1. Identify and understand the problem
Fashion giant Victoria’s Secret’s reputation has taken a hit time and again. The company has been known to propagate body stereotypes among females. Plus, its ties with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein did not help. Becoming aware of these issues, the company has undertaken a rebranding where it has shifted its focus from what’s sexy to what is empowering. It has started a more inclusive branding to have different body types at its core.
However, renewing a reputation is not so simple. A survey revealed that when young women were asked to identify which of the two images—one of Hailey Bieber in leopard-printed lingerie and the other in more natural-looking lingerie—represent Victoria’s Secret, people chose the first one. Chief Executive Martin Waters is aware of this perception and acknowledges, “You don’t change a brand’s positioning in five minutes or a day or a month or a week. It takes years.” So, the first step to restoring your reputation is understanding what tarnished it in the first place.
2. Create a strong company culture
When a company faces public scrutiny, one of the first things they need to do is take a long, hard look at its culture. If there are serious problems with the way employees are treated or the overall atmosphere of the workplace, these need to be addressed immediately. Creating a strong, positive company culture is essential to maintaining a good reputation and regaining public trust.
There are several steps companies can take to build a strong culture:
1. Define your values and make sure everyone is on board.
2. Create clear policies and procedures that promote respect and fairness.
3. Encourage open communication and feedback from employees.
4. Promote a healthy work-life balance for all employees.
5. Invest in employee development and growth opportunities.
3. Be transparent
It is important for a company to be transparent if it wants to recover its reputation. This means being honest and upfront about any mistakes that have been made and taking responsibility for them. It also means being open about the steps that are being taken to fix the problem and prevent it from happening again. Customers and other stakeholders need to see that the company is committed to making things right, and they need to be kept updated on progress. Only by being transparent can a company hope to earn back trust and respect.
4. Act quickly
The longer you wait, the more damage will be done to your company’s reputation. So, you need to take control of the situation and act quickly.
Here are some tips on how you can act quickly to repair your company’s reputation:
- Address the issue head-on
- Be open and honest with your customers
- Take responsibility for your actions
- Offer a sincere apology
- Make things right with your customers
- Move forward and learn from your mistakes
5. Engage and listen to customers
It’s essential for a company to take the time to listen to its customers, both current and former. This can be done through surveys, such as the one conducted by Victoria’s Secret, customer service interactions or social media monitoring. By really understanding what your customers are saying, you can start to address any areas of concern and create an atmosphere of trust.
6. Be proactive
Being proactive entails taking charge when it comes to both crisis prevention and crisis management (Read: Try Guys acing crisis management). A proactive approach will help a company avoid or mitigate the negative effects of a crisis.
This involves having a plan for how to respond to a crisis. This plan should include who will be responsible for what, how the information will be communicated and what steps will be taken to mitigate the damage caused by the crisis. Having a plan in place before a crisis occurs can help a company manage the situation more effectively and minimize the negative impact on its reputation.
7. Hold leaders and employees accountable
One of the most important ways to gain back consumer trust is to take accountability. Preferably, a CEO or CMO must do so, of course with the support of the board and employees.
This also entails setting clear expectations and providing feedback regularly. Leaders need to be role models for accountability, leading by example and setting the tone for the rest of the organization.
Employees need to feel empowered to speak up when they see something that isn’t right. They should also know that there are consequences for not meeting standards. By holding everyone accountable, a company can send a strong message that it is committed to doing things the right way.
8. Listen to feedback from customers, communities, and advocacy groups
In the wake of a scandal or other public misstep, companies must listen to feedback from customers, communities and advocacy groups. By surveying its target audience, Victoria’s Secret was able to understand that revamping its reputation would take a lot of while, and the company needs to put in a lot of work to achieve success. This feedback can help organizations understand how their actions are being received and where to improve.
Of course, as mentioned above, simply listening to feedback is not enough. Organizations must also take action to address the concerns that have been raised. But by engaging with stakeholders openly and honestly, companies can begin the process of rebuilding their reputation.
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