Responding to Negative Messages

When I was a sophomore in college, I took a class titled, “Corporate Communications” and now I actually teach a similar course at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. I sure do wish I was a more diligent student and paid a bit more attention all those years ago. However, there is at least one lesson I do remember that continues to stand out and it would bode well for all of us to keep this message in mind.

That important lesson was simply: be calm, honest and transparent. It mostly addressed those times when companies find themselves in crisis or controversy that is negatively public or causes some sort of harm to your reputation. The author maintained that SIMPLY being truthful and contrite is the most effective response to save your hard earned reputation.  It almost boggles my mind that more and more, whether it is corporations, politicians or public figures, the first inclination at times of crisis the inclination is to react defensively and to be less than transparent.

As we think about the effects social media has on our reputations, now is a time that all camps need to be more mindful of how they respond.  It seems as if no matter the medium (or the author), if negative messages are shared publicly, they are viewed as truth. The damage of retreating and refusing respond to these attacks can be more devastating then taking a proactive and measured approach to repair/preserve your reputation.

Here are 3 ways you can ensure you can protect your camp’s reputation:

  1. Don’t respond directly to the negativity. Obviously, your initial reaction will be to vigorously defend yourself by addressing the initial “post” and I encourage you hit the pause button.
  2. Craft a measured and positive public response only if you feel it’s warranted. Depending on the nature of the message and potential reputation damage, you may actually choose not to respond at all. Of course, you want to monitor the conversation if it continues.
  3. Contact the interested parties directly. If you can identify the parents/campers who might be affected by these messages, get on the phone. You want to retain them as loyal members of your community and a phone call offering an honest explanation/apology or additional perspective will pay off down the road.

Remaining calm, standing your ground, being honest/forthcoming with your community and staying above the fray will ensure that you limit the damage to your reputation. Don’t let all the hard work and good will you’ve developed over the years go to waste because of negative attacks