The Wildfire Effect or How Social Media can destroy a brand as fast as it creates one (Part 2 of 2)

Remember the Ralph Waldo Emerson saying “your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear what you say?”

When it comes to preventing a social media spark from becoming an all-consuming wildfire, your actions and reactions will ultimately determine the degree of impact on your brand.

For example, I can recall an article in which the motives of an individual in terms of their support of a particular business strategy were contemplated.  Even though it was a small piece of a much larger overall story that was being covered in the general media, and there was no accusation of any wrongdoing, the individual responded with flailing aggressiveness.  Rather than remaining calm and diffusing the situation with a logical response   ̶   or ignoring the article outright   ̶   this person fanned a small spark into a potentially raging fire by the zealousness of their reaction.

Besides bringing what I would imagine was additional and unwanted attention to the article itself, the individual’s response actually caused people to wonder why a simple question would inspire such ire.

Taking a cue from the old ABC sales axiom of Always-Be-Closing, when it comes to managing your reputation on-line, the best advice I can give is Always-Be-Cool!

This doesn’t mean that you should feign your feelings or in any way be less than true to yourself.  What it does mean per the Emerson quote, is that you do not want to detract from your response or the explanation of your position through attention grabbing actions that you will likely regret later.  Remember once again, that once something is put out into the virtual realms of the social media world, it is out there for all to see.

Within the context of the ABC approach to managing your brand in terms of media or social media interaction, the following video featuring the new coach of the Buffalo Bills speaks volumes.

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

Now you might reasonably argue that when it comes to a personal brand or something for which you have strong feelings, containing one’s emotional mindset and response is an easier said than done task.  While this may be true, I remember the words of a dear friend who said “when you lose control of your emotions, you lose control of the situation.”  In the end, you and you alone will determine the end result of any challenges relating to your brand.  This means that you must always look beyond the horizon of your present discomfort and anger to determine where YOU want to end up when everything has been said and done.

Of course if you are in the wrong, then acknowledging your mistake with both humility and contrition will go a long way towards repairing the damage to your brand.  I will write about this last point in greater detail in a future post.

In the meantime, what is your most memorable example of an individual or company who effectively handled a brand crisis?

Wildfire Tips image

Here are a few additional tips that can help you to fireproof your brand:

  • Stay connected and informed in terms of what is happening in the world around you.  This means that you have to build your network of connections so that you will always be “plugged-in” to new developments that could have an impact on you, and proactively govern your actions and words accordingly.
  • Take the time to fully assess a potentially challenging situation before deciding on a course of action even if your initial reaction is to “shoot back” in terms of a response.  I can remember a client who once received an e-mail that was critical of their work.  Although they were tempted to fire back a response defending themselves, they paused to understand what was at the heart of the original message and then replied in a manner that opened up an important dialogue as opposed to getting into a war of words.  By doing this they solved the problem while gaining the respect of both their co-workers and their boss.
  • Think back on difficult situations from the past.  How did you handle yourself?  Were you happy with what you did . . . were you happy with the outcome?  If you could do it again, what would you have done differently?  The old saying that those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it is so true.  Learn not only from your past, but learn from the mistakes as well as the successes of others.  In my book I talk about the difference in the way that Johnson & Johnson  handled the Tylenol tampering scandal as opposed to how Exxon mishandled the Valdez oil spill.  Both are important in that they provide valuable lessons in which the outcome is known.
  • Tell the truth and be truthful to who you are.  Like the George Washington cherry tree story, when you tell the truth or admit that you made an error there is no where to go from there but forward.  You may have to take a little hit in the sort term but, you will ultimately earn the respect of those around you, and move beyond the situation as opposed to being enveloped or defined by it.  Above all, do everything to make it right!

Remember to click the book cover image below to check out my new book “The Future of You! Creating Your Enduring Brand” for interesting and insightful examples of brand crisis management.

Click here to get your copy of The Future of You!

Click here to get your copy of The Future of You!

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