When Your Brand is Damaged, You Need to ACT

Crisis management plans attempt to deal with catastrophic events, but a damaged brand can be the result of a chronic disease, not just an acute one.

Volkswagen, many politicians and arguably, the AMA and many academic medical centers, have damaged brands. You might have one too. Crisis management plans attempt to deal with catastrophic events, but a damaged brand can be the result of a chronic disease, not just an acute one. What's more, few businesses have a crisis management plan in place should they need to implement it.

When things go south, you need to ACT:

1. Acknowledge that you made a mistake as quickly as possible, as often as possible and as truthfully as possible.

2. Be contrite, accepting responsibility for the error in a way that is genuine and forthright.

3. Transition to the new plan, designed to convince your customers that the same thing won't happen again and that you are taking immediate steps to change and prevent relapses.

Patients are people and they have made many mistakes and have been in your place probably more than once. While the bonds of trust, once broken, are sometimes difficult, if not impossible, to repair, many have done so whether it is a surgeon who left a sponge in your belly, your company CEO who stole money, your hospital who allowed a drug-addicted nurse to reuse needles, or your spouse who cheated on you. Admitting errors, taking responsibility for them and setting things straight is not only courageous, but an act of leadership.