Earning Trust Back After Your Brand F*cks Up

A woman screaming and holding her hands over her ears.

Mistakes are a part of human nature. We all make them, and we’ll continue to do so. Think back to the last f*ck up you had. How did you handle it? Did you place blame? Did you make excuses? Did you own it?

COVID is f*cking everything up. Businesses are struggling to stay safe while ensuring customers are also safe, in spite of themselves. It’s hard to do that when the Karens of the world are dominating our newscycle. We mean, wearing a mask to bars and restaurants is SOOO inconvenient, and those safety guidelines are really only suggestions. While we’re at it, we should probably throw a COVID party and see who can catch it first—how fun! (Please, please know we’re being sarcastic.) 

The world is seriously a sh*tstorm right now. Things are going to go wrong. It’s inevitable. It is the biggest reason you need to engage a PR firm, ideally before the sh*tstorm hits. It’s better to be prepared than reactive.

Let’s look at how a company can gain the community, industry and customers’ trust back after a major f*ck up. Seriously, bookmark this blog and read it often, cause we’re kind of sick of repeating ourselves.

Own It

Like we said above, sh*t happens. The best thing you can do as a company is own your part in the crisis/f*ck up and set your pride aside. At this point, no one cares whose fault it is or how it happened. Your customers need to know you’re responding and taking action.

Any response needs to happen within 24 hours of the “incident.” Actually, your reply should happen sooner. Do you really ever turn it off as a business owner? If you are not monitoring your social and other chatter on the regular, you sure as hell better hire someone to do it for you. 

This seems to be the hardest course of action for businesses. They don’t want to own a mistake. If you let pride get in the way, you won’t recover. There are a lot of examples out there. Our favorite is when people blame their customers…seems like a good way to build loyalty.

Apologize

We don’t care if you feel like you didn’t do anything wrong. Literally, we don’t even ask that when we meet with you after a crisis. It doesn’t matter, because the public has assigned blame, and guess what? It’s yours.

Suck it up, apologize, admit you will do better and be genuine. If you are only doing it to save face, your customers will call you out. 

This leads us to the last part, the action.

Fix it

Once you’ve owned it and apologized, it’s time to get moving. Good examples of “fixing it” are the multiple restaurants that admitted someone had been exposed. Even though they are not mandated by the state to close, they were closing anyways to do a deep clean and test staff. 

If you are in reactive mode, make a list of all the actions your business is going to implement moving forward and keep reporting on it week after week. On top of that, figure out a way to give back to the community. If you are a restaurant, drop off food at the local fire department as a thank you, or provide free samples via food cart or outdoor means to passersby. 

 

This isn’t an overnight fix. It’s an ongoing process, and you need to be committed. If you want help outlining a plan of action, get a hold of us. 

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