Crisis Management – How To Recover Your Image After Starring In An Unfortunate and Notorious Episode?


Many celebrities have starred in unfortunate episodes that have sometimes damaged their reputation forever, from the golfer Tiger Woods, to Janet Jackson’s “nipplegate” to the singer Melendi with his drunkenness on a plane. It is hard to believe that someone like actor Will Smith does not appreciate the dimension of his unfortunate mistake, and this does not lead him to curb instincts that he should be able to control. But as my lawyer says, “nothing feels more right than what was done,” and going back in time is no longer possible. Having made a severe mistake in the eyes of a global audience, what can we do?

1.- Assume the blame and apologize. In the first place, we have to assess aspects such as our level of responsibility and guilt, our reputational past and the context in which it occurs. If we are guilty and responsible, we will try not to worsen the situation with an absurd justification, such as “love leads us to make mistakes.” This can provoke more anger and new accusations. It is preferable to admit the mistake and apologize to those affected clearly and sincerely. In the case of manifest guilt, the steps to follow would be “recognition, repentance and repair of the damage, if any.” It would be another thing if the fault belonged to third parties, and it would be another situation and another completely different strategy to follow. On the other hand, our previous and historical reputation can also work for or against us.

2.- Wait for things to calm down. The good and bad thing about the news is that we quickly get tired of it. Everything we do and say later will create new information, feed the topic and ensure its continuity. How about a period of seclusion and meditation? Waiting does not mean being idle. Here we will “monitor” what is said about us and be reactive only when it is essential, controlling and measuring our messages very well. We must also take care of each of our subsequent appearances. It would not be the time to dance wildly or get drunk in the eyes of others.

3.- Prepare our responses and subsequent interviews. Once it is time to go public, have our answers and comments ready. They will ask us about it, and they are going to try to get us to generate new news again.

We have to have an answer:

– That includes repentance and forgiveness, briefly and without overdoing it.

– Concise. Not very long but straightforward.

– Consistent and accurate, and our performance must be aligned.

– Cut the subject. Do not give rise to more questions, politely expressing our interest and the need not to extend the topic any longer than necessary. 

In a reasonable tone and without showing anger, we also have to state that we are working to improve this issue.

4.- Reputation recovery phase. Once this phase is over, we can move on to recover our reputation. Every crisis is indeed an opportunity to come out even more potent. Could Will Smith warm up and talk about the importance of anger management and how he’s dealing with it? Could you help anti-bullying associations and show how adults should set an example on this issue? Could he set himself up as a detractor of body shaming, this time correctly and positively? 

5.- Forgetting and positivity of the news. We know that 100% forgetting is impossible. Still, it is time to generate favorable information that makes the negative news fall behind. That reminds us to make it positive, say that it changed us, we have improved, and we have the right and opportunity to work to be better.

In short, nothing that happens to us will sink us forever if we know how to handle it. Making mistakes is human, and the rest of humanity will forgive you if you don’t re-offend, learn, and change. And from communication, transmit it in the right way to achieve the reconstruction of your image.

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