Tips for Handling a Reputation Crisis in Case of Vicious Online Attacks:
Stay calm! Panic can ruin you at this point, which is why it is so important to think about the possibility of a bad situation ahead of time and prepare, so you don’t sit paralyzed and wondering what to do. Stay calm, be rational, emotionally detach yourself as much as you can.
Know who you can rely on. Don’t depend on employee’s or flunky’s to mouth words at the situation and try to shield you. At the end of the day, you are the boss, the buck stops here, so buck up and deal with the situation yourself so that you know best practices are being followed. If you outsource it pos, keep your eyes on them too. This is your reputation at stake after all.
Know when to outsource the job. Before leaving your company folds, If you are hopeless in the limelight, appoint a high ranking person from your organization to speak for the company and make sure you and they are on the same page as far as what is to be said and how the affair should be handled.
Go on the positive attack. Hammer the web with positive content and work seriously on getting each piece SEOd and linked for maximum rankings to push negative results down off the front page. This does not happen overnight usually, it will take time and you have to be patient. Remember, while the negative is hot, that will have all the traction. Work the plan faithfully and when the buzz dies down, the good will rise.
If necessary, hire out this reputation management to a trusted form to get faster results – experts know how to deal with the problem. Take action as soon as possible to address the problem, and go over and above as regards to honesty and transparency. If you really did cause the problem yourself, admit it and make it up to injured parties twice over.
Don’t play games and don’t experiment. Do it right the first time – formulate your stance then stick to it. If you are blameless, then don’t back down. Push forward and take the higher ground. Find positive messages as responses to the negatives. Let the public know what you are doing to resolve the problem, and then move on to reveal your brave new plans for the future. Always spin positive and progressive.
Keep a watchful eye on the web. Just like good content can move fast and wide, keep in mind that forest fires can jump and flare again in a new location. Even if you have smothered them in one spot they can unexpectedly resurface elsewhere. Watch for lingering effects of the situation and continue to blot them away. It may take time, but you have to be ever vigilant.
Don’t rest! Continue to monitor and measure public perceptions long after the immediate crisis has passed to see if there are lasting implications for your brand and reputation, and act accordingly. The main thing is to act. Don’t sit around wishing it away. Don’t think small and cheap. Whatever you spend immediately can help save you in lost business and a damaged reputation.