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Pepsi and United Airlines are recent examples of how successful businesses aren’t immune to hurting their image. Instead of sitting in front of our computer, shaking our heads and thinking “That would never happen to me,” it would be a good idea to set up a recovery strategy should the unthinkable happen.

After all, nobody’s perfect, and as your business grows, you might not always have control of what happens with your image.

Here are some tips to help bounce back in the shortest amount of time and with the least damage to your brand.

  1. Own up to it: When making a mistake, there is nothing worse than rushing to deny it or cover it up. However, to make mistakes is just human nature. The best thing we can do to turn things around is to acknowledge them.
    Take, for example, Martha Stewart’s insider trading scandal. Despite the fact that she could’ve remained a free woman pending the appeal of her sentencing, she decided to turn herself in. Accept what was done and do your best to move forward. People will notice and remember.
  2. Correct it: In the early 1980s, several people died after taking Tylenol. It turned out the capsules were laced with cyanide. This could have been the demise of the pharmaceutical giant. However, Tylenol issued a massive recall and alerted the nation as to the alarming discovery. Subsequently, they developed safety seals to prevent future tampering. Although their sales to dropped significantly, the company eventually recovered. Today, Tylenol remains one of the most popular over-the-counter medications.
  3. If appropriate, use humor: A few years ago, an interesting tweet showed up on the official Red Cross Twitter account. Although it probably elicited a chuckle from some, it also made the organization look careless. How did they turn it around? By following steps 1 and 2 on this list, and by making a tame joke about it.
    Just make sure that if you use this approach, it is appropriate to do so. The worst thing you could do after making a mistake is to give the impression of being insensitive.
  4. Make sure it doesn’t happen again: This one is obvious. An apology will seem disingenuous if you continue a pattern of bad behavior.

These examples are proof that by properly addressing an error, you can get back up after falling from grace. If Tylenol could recover, anyone else can.

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