Online reputation can be a capricious and ornery beast. Nobody’s perfect, but the fact is people are more likely to judge you by the way you respond to your mistakes than they will for the mistakes themselves. When you screw up, you need to own up to it and apologize.
Now, the word “apologize” can mean many things to many people, and a lot of folks in the public light have spent a lot of effort on pseudo-apologies that dodge responsibility (“I’m sorry you were offended”), deflect focus (“I’m sorry, but we’ve been under a lot of pressure lately”), or just insult the injured party (“I’m sorry you didn’t understand the point we were trying to make”). These kinds of statements might be good for salvaging pride or saving face, but they’re not apologies. Not really.
So what is a real apology supposed to do? It’s supposed to acknowledge the *real* problem and the part your business played in it (whether intentional or not). It’s supposed to state clearly what you did wrong, and acknowledge the pain points of those impacted by the issue. A proper apology should express your sincere regret and assure all involved that the issue will not happen again.
The Corpen Group (which is actually now doing business as Global Public Affairs) published this interesting infographic highlighting the 8 integral components of a corporate apology. The takeaway is simple: Get out in front of the issue with a sincere and forthright apology, and you’ll recover more quickly.
- Best Way to Apologize? Starbucks, Business Experts on the Art of Saying Sorry (American Express)
- So, What Do You Do When You Really Screw Up? (Storytelling for Success)