Monday, September 25, 2023

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The Apex of Crisis Communications and Reputation Management

In an ever-evolving social media age, it can feel as if there’s always a new celebrity or influencer scandal that commands public attention. In August alone, notable celebrities and influencers entered career-damaging lawsuits, accidentally started a riot and were brought back to life. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg—drama on maximalism-design-Tok likely ended an influencer’s career this month.

Social media is creating layer upon layer of drama that, in some cases, has real-life consequences. And if you’re particularly unlucky or careless, what seems like an online attack could have legal ramifications.

We’re at an apex of crisis response and reputation management. Here are some key insights into the future of crisis communications and what we, as the professionals shaping the brands of public figures, should be doing about it.

A response should be months, not days, in the making

If you’re putting together a crisis response after the reporter reached out to ask for your statement, you’re already too late. Planning for a crisis should always start well before the issue comes up. This way, you can work with the brand to manage the story as soon as possible. This will help mitigate the backlash and rumors that will inevitably start once the public is made aware of the issue.

For instance, when it came out that there were allegations made against Lizzo by former dancers, she didn’t release a statement until nearly 24 hours after the fact. By then, the damage was already done. Negative opinions were already formed and condemnations circulated widely on TikTok, Threads, X (formerly Twitter), Reddit, Instagram—you name it. A concert festival got canceled and Lizzo is no longer in the running for the Super Bowl 2024 halftime show because of the backlash.

Regardless of how the case turns out, Lizzo’s reputation will likely never be the same. While the potential harm caused might have meant damage to Lizzo’s public image regardless of when a statement was made, we’ll never truly know given the amount of time it took for her to speak up.

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