Being a public figure makes a fall from grace particularly humiliating. Witness Paula Deen’s self-propelled implosion last week: lawsuit, racial slurs, bungled apologies, fired from her biggest platform.
But just because you’re not a fixture on cable TV doesn’t mean your personal brand can’t—or won’t—take a hit now and then.
It can be your own damned fault—or a series of outside events that pull you into your own personal tsunami.
What matters most is what you do with it.
Crisis experts have a prescription which is way harder than it sounds: do your homework so you completely understand what happened, share just the right amount of information (too much or too little will backfire) and, above all, be honest.
Honest, as in a heart-felt “I’m sorry”. Delivered humbly, appropriately, it is a very good start to show that you “get” the harm you’ve caused.
But it’s not enough without the hardest part—action. You can’t do it again. You have to get to the core of the issue and fix it. Until you do, your mistake demonstrates who you really are more clearly than a thousand successes.
And here’s the rub when we’re talking personal brand. There are no short-cuts. The change—the hard, deep work—has to come from you. It’s your actions, your promises, your worldview—YOU—that that are in the bull’s eye. You’ve got no one to blame and nowhere to hide.
The silver lining? If the hit to your brand wasn’t lethal, it just may win you some converts who will admire your new-found wisdom.
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*I’ll be back after the Independence Day holiday—enjoy a glorious start to the summer!