What do Ashley Madison and Amazon have in common? They’ve both responded to recent crises in entirely different ways.
When you don’t respond properly to a crisis — or at all — you run the very real risk of everybody hating you, losing trust in you and undermining your reputation, potentially forever. Just ask SeaWorld, which saw profits drop 84 percent after the “Blackfish” documentary was released; or BP, whose valuation never recovered after Deepwater Horizon dumped 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
More recently, think of the trust lost by Ashley Madison when hackers posted its “private” users in public view, or the high-performing stock at Amazon even after The New York Times documented a less than stellar work culture.
Here are seven things you should think of now to be ready in case it happens to you.
The public will make judgments based on emotion, not rationality. Use emotional responses appropriately by doing things like expressing anger at those who misbehaved or sympathy for victims. But don’t shoot from the hip — even emotional responses must be based in cold, hard facts. Emotional responses are best received from an effective company spokesperson, and it will seem more genuine if it comes from someone on the executive team.