Sometimes things go terribly wrong.

So terribly wrong that the full weight of the “oops” pressures and threatens to push you off track…for good.

It’s no fun being bullied by a person or by circumstance.

Still, you can defend yourself. If you really want to safeguard your reputation – if you’re serious about turning the page, put your ego on pause before you go any further. To begin the repair work that needs to get done, humility must be ever present. No games and no half stepp’n.

To better understand what led up to your reputation crisis, you’ll need to rely on fresh eyes to revisit and dissect what happened.  If you can do this on your own then great, but you may really need to take several steps back or move far away from the issue to gain a clearer understanding of what truly went wrong.

Building a good reputation takes time and effort. Don’t let all your hard work go down the drain. Follow these steps to minimize damage to your reputation:

  • Plant good seeds. Chances are, if you’re known for being fair, decent and giving before a crisis strikes, people will be more inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt. Some people will even come to your aid to defend your reputation instead of rushing to conclusions and they may even remind others about your contributions & good deeds. Be Good, Do Good.
  • Respond fast. When problems arise, don’t delay – address problems as they are brought to your attention. Let people know that you are aware of the current situation; you ‘re researching it and will keep them updated.
  • Present your best self: While things get sorted out, try to ignore the discomfort of the moment, and show the world your best, not your worst. Present your view on what happened along with your plans for turning things around. Give your good behavior every opportunity to outshine the negativity surrounding you.
  • Mirror your professionalism offline & online. Your online presence should enhance who you are offline and your offline presence should enhance your online. It should be seamless. Like the opposite sides of a coin.
  • Control your emotions:  If you can’t control your emotions, remain quiet and allow a public relations professional to speak on your behalf. If you don’t handle the problem properly, it’s bound to get deeper and more problematic.
  • Monitor your reputation on the social web. Use a flexible social media monitoring tool to get plugged in to see what’s said about you on the social web. Choose the most important terms you want to track, e.g. your name and the names of your business or competitors.
  • Share your perspective. Add positive content about yourself online. Shape the way that others perceive the situation. Share your thoughts on what has happened despite how others present. Issue a formal statement, press release, write a blog post or share your perspective in on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for further exposure. Keep your communications consistent across the social web.
  • People talk and talk. Take the time to learn the proper way to you share online. If you feel compelled to share your opinions, choose your words carefully. Don’t give people more ammunition to use against you or your organization.

Every organization and professional has to remain aware of how the public perceives them. As each day comes and goes, new information is posted and shared online which could place your identity and privacy at risk. Remaining level headed and steady during a crisis show others that you have not buckled under the pressure and that you deserve their understanding and are worthy of a second chance.

While no one knows when a scandal will erupt, if your past is filled with moments where you weren’t on your best behavior, and photos or video have captured you in compromising positions, you should brace yourself for what may come.  Always remember that changing circumstances and trying times don’t diminish who you are, (unless you’re a fraud and you intentionally mislead people for sport.)  If you are legit, though it may be hard for you to stand tall  after a social media fire storm hits, if you are proactive, transparent and accountable, you will eventually find your legs again.

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