It is possible that you find yourself embroiled in something that gets into the public eye. For instance, you may have worked with someone who turned out to be involved in some sort of crime. Or maybe you have provided services to a company that didn’t pay its employees. There are countless situations in which you could accidentally be involved in someone incredibly negative, perhaps even criminal If that happens, should you publicly defend yourself, or should you hide and hope for it to blow over? When is the right moment for reputation repair, in other words, and how should you do it?
Don’t Go Public
In the vast majority of cases like the ones described above, the best thing to do is actually to remain quiet. This goes against the grain, because you feel your reputation may be under attack and your instinct will be to defend it. However, before you act, you have to ask two important questions:
- Has your name been directly attacked and named, with a link to the event?
- Are you sure the people who matter already know about the incident anyway?
If you answer yes to both of these questions, then you need to speak out publicly. A press release, for instance, is a good course of action. Also add an official statement to your website and social media pages, as well as creating a special edition newsletter and adding the statement to that.
If, however, you can’t answer yes to both questions, you need to wait. If you do respond, then there is a chance that you will make things worse. For instance, if people didn’t even know you were involved at all, then suddenly coming out to say that you have no responsibility in the event will make you look very suspicious. Plus, it will get people interested, and people love conspiracy theories. If you do make a statement like that, one or more of three things can happen:
- The reader doesn’t believe your protest.
- The reader suddenly associates your name with the event.
- The reader completely believes you.
Options one and two, the most likely ones, will make the situation worse than what it was. Ask somebody who has been acquitted of a crime whether it has ever really gone away to see how this applies.
What About a Direct Attack?
Let’s say you weren’t accidentally involved in something bad, but that someone takes it on themselves to write an angry column about you. What do you do then? Three things to bear in mind here:
- Many people won’t read the offending article, but they may read your defense, leading to options 1, 2, and 3 mentioned above.
- People who write defamatory letters often come across as angry, and people don’t take them seriously anyway. If you respond to it, you may come across the same way: as a hot head.
- You may be overreacting.
But sometimes you’re not. And that is precisely why you have to work with an online reputation management company so that you know how to act and when.