From Hero to Villain and Back Again

All organisations want to emerge from a crisis with their reputation at least intact and unaffected. But in some cases, there is a chance to appear to be the hero of the moment, stepping in to make things better and ease the pain. Putting yourself into the role of hero brings its own risks.

This was the focus of a webinar I gave looking at how heroes can become the villains and what to do when this impacts on your recovery. Thank you to SoCrowd for inviting me to discuss a subject that is often overlooked. For many businesses becoming the hero of the moment can be an exciting position to be in.

All the tough questions about what has happened have been banished for the moment. Everyone is talking positively about employees and what they have done. The organisation is riding high, and its reputation is growing despite the crisis that has emerged. This is a short-term response and these moments while exhilarating are short lived and burn out as quickly as they appeared. What you are often left with is the dawning realisation that things were not as magnificent as they appeared.

At this moment, the heroes can become the villains.

Responding to a crisis is not about right and wrong, good, and bad, black, and white. There will be things that went well and areas where improvements can be made. Learning, developing and above all looking to change as appropriate are essential within the response. Recovery and change go hand in hand, and both need to be in place to positively move forward after a crisis.

The recovery phase needs careful thought and planning. The crisis communication plan needs to become a recovery communication plan that takes account of what happened, what needs to happen and how the organisation is going to move forward. Using data, insight, feedback and debrief information is vital to plan a successful step into recovery and beyond. It is a time to be honest, to be positive about the next steps, and to explain the good and bad. For communicators this is about using messages like threads that will weave together to create a tapestry of understanding.

So, what next? Plan and prepare so you are ready for both crisis and recovery, and make sure the right systems and processes are in place to help you. Remember reputation matters but this comes from focusing on the people involved in the crisis and being honest about what has worked and where improvements can be made.

Amanda Coleman, Crisis Communications Consultant and former Head of Corporate Communications for Greater Manchester Police


Watch our webinar: How To Recover Or Secure Your Reputation

Join Amanda Coleman, Crisis Communications Consultant and former Head of Corporate Communications for Greater Manchester Police, as she shared how to rebuild your reputation after a crisis and the five steps to recovery for when you’re looking ahead to what’s next.