From the article last week titled Why does building a good reputation matter, I was challenged to go deeper to uncover what one needs to do when their reputation has been defamed and perhaps damaged. This is a possibility that can happen to anyone. The world is full of nasty people, some of whom will not hold their breath should an opportunity arise for them to slander your good name. In such a scenario, what do you do? How do you pick up the pieces? How do you move on when some random predicament breaks out today with relics from your adventurous past? As I said, some malicious characters out there!
To answer these questions, I sought some help, and the answers are as varied as can be. My wise counsel had a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, a procurement specialist, an art director, and a content marketing specialist all sharing their different viewpoints.
The lawyer advised of the need to fight for one’s rights through legal means by identifying the person making the slanderous remarks and suing them for their life and that of their grandchildren; the engineer proposed that it was time to define new aspects around the person and showcase different dimensions that would help unleash their hidden potential; the procurement specialist thought that it was possible to negotiate their way out of the situation; the art director saw it as an opportunity to design and release a meme just as slanderous; the content marketing specialist saw it as an opportunity to develop content and have it circulated to various authority websites while the doctor advised that the best way out was to have a brawl with the person.
None of these answers are wrong (well, maybe not none), but they may not work if used in isolation.
What then do you do when faced with a defamatory situation that requires reputation repair.
Do not fixate on the issue, rather find a solution quickly, and fix it. The faster you internalize the gravity of the situation, the faster you can figure a way out of the mess. A lot of times, we dwell on the past for so long that we let the problem take root. When this happens, it becomes harder to eliminate it or at least reduce the gravity of the damage.
Assess the situation for a react and respond address. Every situation must be reacted to. Further, it must also be keenly assessed to determine which type of response best suits it. To react means that certain actions MUST be taken to help manage and possibly clear out the misunderstanding or mess.
- Did someone post damning information about you? Do you have proof showing that the allegations are false and their actions are driven by malice? Then perhaps you could consider taking legal advice.
- If on the other hand the allegations are true, then it is important to acknowledge and own up to your mistakes. This process requires that you appear genuine and ready to make amends, moving fast to address the situation.
- Next, try and negotiate for a win-win outcome. To do this, you must show that you are remorseful for the actions done in the past; Avoid angry or emotional outbursts as these only aggravate the situation even further and worse still, make you look defensive.
- Develop a communication strategy that speaks to who you are and what you have grown your personal brand to become. Make sure you choose your words carefully and be cautious not to appear contradictory. In some cases, maintaining silence becomes golden.
Get Help. Depending on the extent of reputation damage, consider hiring a crisis communication expert. They will work with you to develop a content plan that speaks to your brand’s vision, while trying to diminish the damage inflicted by the slander put out there. Some of the things they will work on will include developing press publications, digital and social strategies to help amplify your authority. An easy read by R. L Adams titled Reputation Repair: A Guide to Repairing, Building, and Protecting Your Personal or Business Reputation on the Web gives a great detailed account of how to repair your reputation digitally.
Take up new community responsibilities that will speak to your ability to do greater things other than self-driven acts. This involves simple volunteer activities that reveal the value you bring to those around you.
If all this fails, be like the marketers and take on a rebranding exercise to completely change your identity. Visit the office of registrar of persons and change your name and possibility place of birth and thereafter, march on to the office of immigration for a relocation permit.
How do you think you would manage a crisis around your Personal Brand?
Be intentional in protecting your reputation and #standout4growth.