7 Ways to Bounce Back from Career Mistakes, Missteps and Misunderstandings

Collectively, we’ve spent nearly more than thirty years in the public relations industry, where dealing with crises is par for the course. In fact, in a recent study, PR executive was ranked the 5th most stressful career behind commercial airline pilot, firefighter, military general and enlisted military personnel. Hard to believe that we’d rank amongst jobs that literally have the lives of others in their hands but, as we say in our profession, we’re “paid to be paranoid.” In our book, , Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work,we dedicate an entire chapter to crisis management.

The truth is, we all face difficult situations at work but not everyone knows how to handle them. Often people let mistakes and crises cripple — even paralyze — them, but bouncing back from roadblocks in your career is not as daunting as you might think. We really believe that every crisis is an opportunity. Most errors are reversible, and it’s important to remember that how you respond in tough times shows who you are as a person as much, if not more, than how you are in good times.

Need some guidelines? Here are a few tips for how to handle your next crisis:

#1:  Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst.

  • Go with your gut. When you see a red flag, pay attention. How many times in life have you kicked yourself for not listening to that little voice in your head that says, “Something is wrong here”?
  • Have a plan and a back-up plan. In PR, we try to lay out a strategy and do our best to identify potential pitfalls and problems on the horizon. While we may not always be able to predict what’s coming our way, by doing the exercise and putting a solid plan on paper, you’ll be prepared to deal with it if the issue ever sees the light of the day.

#2:  Be a Problem Solver.

  • Stay calm. In a crisis, people tend to get anxious. Maintaining a sense of Zen will not only allow you to think more clearly but will also set the tone for those around you.
  • Get focused. You want to quickly assess the damage and determine how to move forward.
  • Find a solution. Next, you need to figure out how to address and remedy the situation. Start by considering your end game — what’s the ultimate outcome you’d like to see? — and work backwards from there.

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What a Scandal! How to React When Your Reputation is On the Line

With Weinergate in full swing and ‘The Sperminator’ and Strauss-Kahn incidents just barely in the rearview mirror, a lot has been said about the various scandals in the news of late (weirdly, all by powerful men making sexual slip-ups) — and the impact of said debacles on a person’s reputation.  But as PR experts, we’ll address the most recent situation with NY Congressman Anthony Weiner, who late last week was accused of having sent lewd photos of himself to unsuspecting young women on Twitter.  He responded by inviting reporters in to interview him about the scandal and then giving cryptic, defensive answers to simple questions about whether, in fact, he had done the deed and whether it was his, ahem, wiener featured in the offending pics.

After denying, deferring and dismissing these accusations, Weiner finally admitted today in a press conference that he had sent photos of his “member of Congress” to several women through Twitter and Facebook and had previously lied about the situation. In our book, Be Your Own Best Publicist, we spend an entire chapter on crisis management and we thought we’d share some of that advice with Rep. Weiner and others who may find themselves in personal or professional pickles.

  • Assess. In PR, when we encounter a crisis situation, the first thing we do is examine the potential damage and consider the best course of action. Staying as calm and objective as possible will help you see potential solutions.

 

  • Admit. If the crisis involves lying, as Weiner’s did, you should fess up and admit your mistakes as quickly as possible.  Honesty is always the best policy. It’s never good practice to lie — trust us, it will inevitably come back and bite you in the ass. And, in the age of YouTube and Twitter, your cover-up will replay over and over again, harming your reputation more than if you had just told the truth.

  • Address. When you do apologize, it’s best to explain why you’re sorry about what you did and, if appropriate, the reasons behind your behavior or actions. Show true remorse for your error in judgment. No fake tears (Do you hear us, Congressman Weiner?), no robotically reading off a prepared statement (Hello, Tiger Woods!).

  • Atone. Try to clean up your mess by righting the wrong as much as you can. Make sure you make it up to the people you’ve hurt (especially if they include your wife). While you can’t reverse the past, you can attempt to have an honorable future.

  • Adapt. A scandal may interfere with your life in lots of ways. It may destroy your family or ruin your career. Either way, you need a game plan for how you’re going to adapt to your circumstances and their effect on your future. Maybe you won’t be the next Mayor of New York City but as we happen to live in a culture of forgiveness, it is possible to make grave mistakes and come back from them (Martha Stewart, anyone?).

Bottom line: The best way to deal with a crisis and do damage control is to face it head on and come clean. Not a lot of people like a cheater — but no one likes a bold-faced liar. We all make mistakes but admitting to them is the first step in repairing a tarnished reputation.

Share your thoughts with us here, on Facebook or Twitter (@bestpublicist).

 

Learning from Lindsay: Lessons To Glean From The Actress’ Missteps and Mistakes

News came this morning that Hollywood actress Lindsay Lohan will be charged this afternoon with felony grand theft for allegedly stealing a $2,500 necklace.

Whether or not she’s convicted for this incident (or others stemming from the allegations from her melee while at the Betty Ford Clinic), there’s no doubt that the starlet is guilty as charged when it comes to damage to her reputation and, subsequently, her career.    While she’s an extreme case, there’s still a lot that one can all learn from Lindsay and her significant fall from grace:
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THANKS, BUT NO THX

From Miss Manners to Jimmy Fallon, people have touted the importance of giving thanks. And, considering the time of year, you’ll undoubtedly hear and read lots (and lots and lots) about the importance of showing gratitude in your day-to-day life.

Given today’s instant-gratification-one-click-checkout-abbreviation-using world, where 140 characters has become the norm, it’s tempting to truncate already tiny phrases such as “please” and “thank you” to save space and time.

IOHO (in our humble opinion), it’s more important than ever to avoid abbreviating such important sentiments. Substituting “pls,” “TY” or “thx” for the real thing is like swapping Seitan for a Steak, or better yet – Tofurkey for its traditional holiday counterpart (no offense, Vegan friends!). It takes the space, but isn’t close to being as satisfying.

If you want to say a truly powerful “thanks,” Psychology Today says it should come in three parts:

  • Part 1: Thank someone for something specific they did for you. (It can also be something they refrained from doing that would have hurt you.)
  • Part 2: Acknowledge the effort it took for them to do it (by saying something like: “I know you went out of your way to do XYZ…”)
  • Part 3: State the difference it personally made to you
  • So we’d like to offer up an official thank you to all of our friends, family and colleagues who have supported us during the process of writing Be Your Own Best Publicist and in our lives in general.  We really, truly appreciate you.

    TTFN (Ta-ta for now) and HTD (Happy Turkey Day)!

    Tell us: What are you thankful for this holiday? Share your thoughts at Facebook or Twitter (@bestpublicist).