Insights & Opinions… from the MAC4 team.

When Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

With a nod to Sir Elton John, 2017 could easily be known (among other things) as the year of apologies.  It seemed there wasn’t a day when someone wasn’t apologizing for something.  The world mobilized for justice and in all honesty, caught a number of people and companies by surprise.  Equifax, United, and a number of people identified in the #metoo movement scrambled to address a crisis, and some apologies were more successful than others.

So, how do you make a public apology that is relevant, sincere … and accepted?

It’s not as easy as saying, “Oops, we’re sorry if we offended you. We won’t do it again.”  No one will believe you.

Here are a few ways to make your apology resonate with your audience:

  • Own up to the situation. Acknowledge the mistake and be responsible for it.
  • Think about how you are going to deliver your message. A single tweet isn’t going to feel sincere. Your message needs to be thoughtful, well-prepared and accessible.
  • Bring in the pros. Now is not the time to shoot from the hip.  A reputation – be it personal or brand – is on the line, and while you may need legal counsel, you also need a communications person to keep your message on point.
  • Don’t wait too long to apologize. If you take too long to get your message out, you could be perceived as not remorseful, but rather just going through the motions.
  • Be clear and concise. Don’t muddy your message with unnecessary explanations or pointing blame to another party.  Focus on the issue, the regret, and what you are going to do to fix the problem.
  • Remember all your audiences. In a corporate situation, a blanket apology may not assuage your customers, partners or employees – you may need to craft specific messages for different audiences.
  • Fix the problem. Show how you are going to make things right again.  Can you issue refunds, replace product recalls, give out a coupon?  Demonstrate your sincerity by taking action.

No one wants to be put in a situation that requires a public apology.  But, if you find yourself in this situation, getting your apology out in a professional, timely way will redeem your image and let you move on with minimal damage.  Just don’t do it again.


Author: Robin Imbesi




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