You’d have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard about the marital woes of celebs like Tiger Woods and Jesse James. Much of the debate in recent weeks has centered on the men and rehab for their promiscuous ways.
No matter what your personal opinion on sexual addiction (Is it real or just a convenient excuse for bad behavior?), both men are following the time-tested formula of crisis communications.
Admit your mistake, ask for forgiveness and take action to correct the problem.
According to the theory, following this formula results in new-found grace. Kinda like going to confession and saying your 10 Hail Mary’s as penance.
But does this really work for companies? It depends. And it takes time. Your audience may not be as forgiving as the masses who idolize celebrities in our pop-culture driven society.
That’s not to say that the formula won’t work. Just that renewal is a process. Rebuilding trust takes time. Companies need to not only admit that there was a problem, but take the time to peel back the layers of the onion to discover the root cause of the problem. How did the problem start? Why was the problem ignored? If the problem was reported, and nothing was done, why was this the case?
Beyond “I’m sorry”
Once the source of the problem is identified, corrective action needs to be put in place to ensure the problem does not happen again. Communicating this to your employees, customers and influencers may be uncomfortable. Your legal counsel may want to stifle any communication to minimize risk in potential litigation. But rebuilding a tarnished reputation is much more difficult than building one from scratch. Companies need to be willing to be open and honest in their communication if they want to regain their audience’s trust.