After being convicted several years ago for selling an annuity to a woman later diagnosed with dementia, Glenn Neasham faced a reputation crisis. He probably didn’t need to do much analysis to know his good name had been seriously tarnished. But for other advisors with negative content online, a thorough assessment should be the first step on the road to reputation recovery.
Where to begin?
First, take a deep breath and don’t panic. Although it’s stressful to see problematic comments or articles about you on the Internet, don’t bounce from one to the next stressing about their impact. Take a moment to reflect on how you got into this mess. In Neasham’s case, he knew exactly what triggered his crisis. But you might not have the benefit of such clear insight.
Perhaps a group of dissatisfied clients are spreading malicious gossip about you online. Or maybe an unhinged customer is venting about you on Complaints.com. Then again, maybe something you did years ago—say, declaring bankruptcy or getting arrested on misdemeanor charges—has suddenly become visible on the Internet. The point is to get clear about the main driver(s) of your reputation problem. Specifically, consider . . .
- Did you create the crisis yourself? If so, have you taken responsibility for the consequences of your actions and tried to make things right?
- Is a third party trying to harm you? If so, what do you think is motivating this person: anger, greed, jealousy, etc?
Then try to determine if your problem stems from one incident or a pattern of incidents. If the latter, what are the common themes underlying each piece of negative content? If having multiple negative reviews is the concern, are they all stemming from the same or similar causes? Are you prepared to fix the product or service deficiencies that are eroding your reputation?
The point is, try to think through what is happening to you, take ownership, and then get ready to respond rationally rather than emotionally.
• See also: How to survive a reputation meltdown: Part I
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