Crisis Management: How to Respond When Your Personal Brand is in Jeopardy

Damage control can go a long way in saving you or your business during times of scandal

Proper crisis management and damage control can make or break your brand (Image: Thinkstock)

Everyone loves a scandal–until they’re at the center of one. Just take the recent firestorm with New York City radio personality DJ Mister Cee of Hot 97. His recent indiscretion got him an arrest record and caused a news and social media frenzy. Now, negative perceptions about the incident abound that could put the legacy of his decades-old brand in jeopardy. His response: Reportedly taking to a Twitter account to address his “haters.”

Those in the public eye are no strangers to scandal, and the need for proper crisis management and damage control is not exclusive to entertainment celebrities. (Think: Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick; Bishop Eddie Long). From product recalls to publicized lawsuits to investment blunders to social media gaffes, one’s response in the midst of the storm can make or break a brand, a career, or a company’s reputation and drastically affect future profitability.

So, how do you strategize in the face of a situation that could jeopardize their brand or livelihood? Marshawn Evans, reinvention strategist, entertainment attorney, and CEO of of ME Unlimited, a consulting firm, offers these tips on how to do just that: What’s the best strategy if one finds oneself, their company, or their brand at the center of a scandal or negative incident?

  • First pause and assess how the situation affects you personally. Clear your mind and focus. “What most people do is react without pausing,” Evans says. “It’s important to assess what just happened personally. You can get consumed with what the public thinks; but you can’t focus on that just yet.”
  • Assess a response or whether you should respond at all. “I usually have to get a client to calm down first and evaluate this. You might feel you need to respond to everything, but that’s not necessarily best.”
  • If you do decide to respond, know your goal in responding. What do you want the response to accomplish? “If anything that you want to say doesn’t fit into that goal, then don’t say it,” she says. “Usually, your goal should be keeping consumer/client loyalty and confidence.” For example, if a company has a product recall, let the customer know what you’re doing to make the product safe or to rectify the situation. Keep in mind that you don’t want to highlight the negatives. Show your customer that you care and stick to the positives.

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