Firstly ask yourself, should I have kept my mouth shut? Understanding the situation is critical to your reputation in the long term. When influencers, celebrities and brands find themselves with negative claims against them, a preliminary (and rational) look at the claim(s) is step one.
If you have broken the law of the country you acted in, most of the time this is a morally rational reason for you to be silenced by the public. However, many instances of being cancelled are not as clear as the cancellation of celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres or Johnny Depp.
Understanding why there is backlash against your comments can be critical and to do this you need to ensure you’re of a sound mind not letting any emotional thoughts get the better of you. If you come to the conclusion that the reasoning is unfair and is negatively impacting your reputation here are a few things you can do to protect your name.
- Remove The Temptation: turn off your notifications to news alerts and temporarily delete your social media and news apps from your phone – you need to remove yourself from the centre of it and take a breath. If it’s an individual that’s being cancelled, your mental wellbeing is critical so distance yourself for your head – even for only 30 minutes. That’s not to say you should delete your account, far from it but you need to remove the temptation from scrolling through negative comments or articles because there is no positive outcome from that.
- Don’t go it alone: the phrase too many chefs spoils the broth is true, however turning to friends, PRs or even reputation specialist to create a small team for support is the best way to understand the path out clearly. Devising a strategic plan of how to respond and in most cases apologise, is crucial. You need to make sure that your plan is not only for the now but also looks towards the future and how you should conduct yourself going forward to the public – did you learn from your ‘mistakes’?
- Check Your Watch: whilst a moment to recalibrate is key, you need to be aware that silence can sometimes make the loudest noise. Turning to your team you’ve reached out to for support, ask them if the temperature of comments is getting hotter. If it’s decided you need to speak out – write a draft and then write 12 more. You’re not going to get it right the first time but each time you do, think about the outcome from your comment and what it might imply or be perceived as. Working with a reputation specialist with your messaging can be critical to getting the tone right and ensure the positive longevity of your reputation.
- To The Textbooks: educating yourself in the space that you were called out for is a good way to show that you have learned from your mistakes and are keen to make progress.
- Clean Your Accounts: a social media audit at this stage seems late after you’ve been called out, but can actually be one of the best times for you to review your history online. Working with specialists to ensure that from the day you opened your accounts anything contentious is removed because whilst you may be a different person today, the internet doesn’t know that. Several high-profile instances have seen everyone from politicians to footballers dragged into controversy for Tweets and comments they made 10 years ago and by keeping them on your own social profiles, they’re still being shouted out by you.
Many who have come up against cancel culture bury their heads for a while, either because they have been silenced and come against backlash each time they speak out publicly, or they’re waiting for it to blow over.
However, regardless of which it is, the long-term approach to rebuild your reputation should now be your main priority. And if you haven’t been cancelled just yet then maybe a proactive reputation plan is where you should start.