• Thomas and Clarene Mitchell

Owning one’s brand includes getting ahead of negative stories

(Photo Source: Adweek)

Some individuals and companies want to stay under the radar and keep media attention away from them. This sentiment may be motivated in part by them being fearful of bad press and controversy. When matters come up that can damage their brand, the automatic response is to sweep it under the rug and wait for the negative fallout to pass. Better yet, they hope the public doesn’t find out about their ‘dirty little secret.’

If an individual or business is faced with a controversial matter, it is best to own up to it immediately. Strategies could include issuing a press release or having an exclusive interview with a media representative. Initiating the media coverage will help minimize the negative attention because you are telling your story before someone else does. When you voluntarily tell your story versus being forced to, you are able to control the narrative.

This brings to mind a scene from the movie Girls Trip. Yes, there’s a branding related situation in the movie. One of the lead characters, Ryan, is shown photos of her husband with his mistress. This could be very damaging to her high power motivational speaking career. Her friend Sasha urges her to release the photo before the paparazzi sells it to a tabloid. Instead of acting immediately, Ryan sits on the matter. This gave opportunity for the mistress to take advantage of the situation by selling the photos herself. This forced Ryan to scramble to deal with the negative press.

A current real-life situation involves Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. They recently gave an interview with a magazine in which they talked about how solid their marriage is. This was a strategic move after reports of problems in their marriage and budding business/media empire. Although there already had been rumblings in the gossip columns regarding their seemingly too-happy-to-be-true marriage, Chip and Joanna were able to detour the negative attention before it became uncontrollable. Now they can maintain their fan base and continue expanding their brand.

Good brand management includes having a consistent public image so individuals remain subject matter experts and businesses remain the first choice for their products or services. Everyone has the potential for something negative happening at some point in time. Owning one’s brand means owning the good and bad of your identity.

Crisis communications can make or break your brand based on how you manage the situations. To successfully survive a crisis, look at them as opportunities to put your mission and values into action. Taking a cue from Maya Angelou: “…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Your proactive response to the crisis is what people will remember because it will illicit empathy and, hopefully, endear people to you more.

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