There is a rampant onslaught of reputational attacks on companies and brands. Such attacks sprout up like weeds these days and demand swift response. They range from culture war issues (Bud Light, Target, Kohl’s for LGBTQ+) and product recalls (Peloton’s second) to major lawsuits, walkouts and strikes. The impacts have been devastating to the bottom line and morale. How companies respond affects customers, employees, shareholders, activist groups and of course, media.

Rebuilding or redefining a reputation in the aftermath of a crisis is an opportunity to examine the roots of a company’s core values, then deploy one of the most effective recovery plans based on the 12-Step program. The most relevant steps for rebuilding trust for a business are to seek assistance, make amends, engage in self-reflection and act.

·Acknowledge the problem: A critical first step is to confront the problem head-on and acknowledge responsibility for any blunders committed. It takes guts. It’s essential. It works.

·Make direct amends: Honestly and directly address those individuals, audiences, and stakeholders who were harmed by your actions or words. The repair is immediate for relationships. It fosters forgiveness and reinstates trust.

·Take action: Follow through with tangible steps to address the issue. Be public about it.

·Accept what you cannot change: Come to terms with circumstances, events, and facets of life that lie beyond your sphere of influence. This could be from the capricious realm of social media, protests and external parties. We live in a world we did not make.

·Change what you can: Every effect has a cause, and sometimes that cause is an ineffective or problematical executive. Crisis is to be met with change.

·Rebuild trust: Forthright and transparent communication with stakeholders and employees builds trust and is the key to your future together.

·Conduct a personal inventory: Assess revealed shortcomings in the light of your repercussions.

One of the most important steps is to seek guidance, because recovery can’t be done alone. The same is true with communications. An outside resource offers perspective and experience.