Apologizing During Crises: Four More Reasons Why You Should Do It (and Mean It)

Kipp Lanham, Senior Account Executive at Media Communication Strategies Inc., gave four reasons why a company in crisis would benefit from an apology:

1)    A company is not too big to fail.

2)    Throwing money at a problem is not enough.

3)    You’re on the media’s radar.

4)    Making your mess your message.

Because I’ve already stressed my stance on apologies (do it and mean it), I’ve decided to slightly shift the approach and offer you four reasons why not apologizing is detrimental to your image. Gotta love scare tactics.

As a 22 year old journalism student, I have a limited amount of work experience. So let me remind you that I am NOT an expert with years of experience under my belt, and I’m going to tie these tips to the company called My Life. As I mentioned in my post Lessons Learned in High School and the Importance of Honesty, the most damaging hit to my trust bank was when I failed to apologize; I crashed my Jeep in a snowstorm, and rather than fess up and hold myself accountable, I tried to hide behind a sheet of lies.

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17 year old me finally taking responsibility.  Sadly, the damage was much worse in-person

So here are four reasons why not apologizing can be tough to bounce back from (and how it relates to my own crisis communication fail):

1) No company is too big to fail. Reputation is key to success, and a sincere apology can work wonders in terms of damage control. If you make a mistake, work towards mending it with a genuine apology. Otherwise, the damage may become irreparable.

My Life: Even though I had spent nearly two decades proving my integrity to my parents, it took a single incident combined with my choice in how to respond to destroy the trust that I had earned.

 2) Money is not the answer. Be careful about the response efforts you choose to employ. Rather than offer a faux-peace offering in the form of monetary compensation, you need to show true remorse and empathy, and demonstrate how you are working to ensure that this never happens again.

My Life: I had to take action and prove to my parents that an integrity-slip such as this one would not happen again. Easier said than done.

3) The media can rip you apart. People are poised for your reaction. So why not be open with your apology, share your side and handle the situation with graceful accountability. You’re going to be highlighted, critiqued and criticized for your mistake over and over again, unless you give journalists something else to write about.  Help them supplement the content with an apology.

My Life: Okay, so maybe the media wasn’t jumping to write about little-old-me, but my parents were certainly sharing the story. And I think they would have illustrated me in a more positive light if I had been forthright with my apology.

 4) You lose trust from the trust bank. When you screw up – which will inevitably happen at some point in this thing called life – your image and reputation take a hit. However, the sum of funds extracted from your trust bank will be significantly heftier if you attempt to weasel your way out of holding yourself accountable.

My Life: It wasn’t until I owned up to my mistake that it began to haunt me less and less.

There are probably a million reasons why not apologizing can be detrimental to your company, brand or image, and I’ve only shared four with you here. So please share any important ones that I might have missed!

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