The Proactive Avatar

If you were playing a video game and you had to choose your avatar, I’m sure you would choose one that had exceptional superpowers. Most people would choose one with super strength and fast agility. Or they might choose a mind reader to know what the enemy’s next move is. Or someone who can see the future. Real life doesn’t have access to these kinds of superpowers, but statistics do have the power to predict the attitude of humanity. Companies must choose aand build how humanity will see them–their own corporate avatar. If they do not create this avatar intentionally, society will create it for them.

Leaders are responsible to answer for incidents that may damage their image, brand or company. In the past, they often had days to consider what to say and how to say it. However, with the rise of social media came a true PR nightmare. Nowadays, CEOs or other public representatives only have seconds, or minutes at best, to answer for anything questionable within their brand or company, whether an actual incident or a rumor.

The best practice is to take responsibility, offer a genuine apology for any wrongdoings, and then work to rectify the situation. Everyone makes mistakes, even corporations, but it is taking responsibility that sets the good apart from the bad. 

When you are choosing a good PR team or partner, you have to consider their ability to act quickly but correctly. They will need great communications skills and the ability to rebuild trust even after speculations and rumors have spread. 

In order to deal with any issue, there are a few steps a company must take, steps that any PR team or representative must be familiar with.

First of all, the company and its leaders have to acknowledge that there is an issue. This helps to validate how the offended party is feeling and it helps the case to move forward into clearance. Don’t try to blame anyone or shift responsibility away from the company. Whether it’s your fault or not, taking responsibility will earn you credibility.

Secondly, after specifically addressing what the offended party is feeling bothered about, the company must work to make the situation better. Additionally, they ought to be fulfilling any promises they have made beefore they make any new ones. Less telling and more showing.

Thirdly, the company must practice transparency and accountability. The highest in the hierarchy has at least some accountability for the actions that the team, company or corporation has decided to carry out––therefore, they have responsibility to ensure a problem is dealt with. If that means firing a problematic employee or changing a company policy, they must do it. And they must do it publicly. Just like between individuals, if reparations are not made openly, then trust cannot be won back.  

These steps are very important, but don’t forget to have a backup plan for any miscommunication. As said at the beginning, each company must take control of creating their own avatar rather than letting the public create it for them. The avatar a company ought to present, their public image, must be honest and open, willing to take accountability, and able to move forward into the future. At the end of the day, a company’s avatar should never be selfish. 


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