How To Rescue Your Employer Brand After A Crisis

September 7, 2017

The news is full of stories that would make a lot of employers cringe. From wrongful terminations, gender discrimination, and just plain bad leadership and poor company culture, the internal workings of companies seems to be gaining lots of press attention lately. And naturally, when these negative stories spread it spells disaster for even strong, long-standing brands. Widely recognized companies like Uber, American Airlines, Chipotle, and Wells Fargo have all recently faced embarrassing media crises that you could imagine had an impact on their employer brand in one way or another.

But why does it seem like so many companies are being called out in the media these days? Well that’s easy – the internet and social media sites have propelled information forward at a rapid rate, and things that would usually get overlooked are now documented and shared with a press of a “share” button. So then, a single disgruntled employee, whether or not their claim is accurate or fair, can reach thousands of potential customers with their negative spin on a company.

The bottom line is that negative press = negative impact on your employer brand.  And since your employer brand is how job seekers view you as a company, negative press is bound to impact your recruiting and hiring efforts as job seekers get exposed to it.

The good news is that while you can’t control what the media says, what you can do is control how you react to it all. And you absolutely should react – because if your company has a public relations disaster relating to a job candidate or employee, the worst action to take is inaction. Hiding your head in the sand won’t make it go away.  Instead, here are five ways to rescue your employer brand if you ever find yourself in a employer brand crisis.

Discover Issues Early

Slamming a lid on an employer branding crisis early is the best scenario to protect your employer brand. Otherwise a disgruntled job applicant or terminated former employee could be trashing you all over the web without you even knowing it! This takes proactive oversight. Human Resources needs to team up with marketing to makes sure your brand is policed closely. A designated member of the marketing team should set up Google alerts with your company’s name so they get notification every time it’s in the news. They should also employ social media monitoring with your company’s name and other keywords to make sure to catch negative posts or tweets about your company. Marketing needs to know to report any negative information they find immediately to HR.

Once you’re satisfied with the protection measures in place, you need to….

Involve happy employees

A solid employer branding strategy encompasses more than just HR’s opinion. All employees across every department should have a part to play. Understand through meetings and surveys how employees feel about the company and why they work there. And even better, work with an unbiased employer review site like kununu to help proactively shape the perception of your company to the public. If you do find your company sued or trashed in the media, lean on current happy employees to combat the negative press. Potential employees give more weight to what current employees say than what HR says.

Don’t Take It Personally

Bad press is infuriating, but check your temper before responding. Arguing with the offender publicly or responding in an inflammatory manner only causes it to remain in the news longer and become more memorable in people’s minds. Never “shoot from the hip”. Craft all responses in advance with proper thought and keep them professional and calm.

Practice Transparency

Potential employees crave authenticity, so convey this in the handling of your employer branding issues. Clamming up and closing ranks or going radio silent is NOT a good course of action. Issue a response and if your company was at fault, admit it and explain the steps you have taken so that the issue won’t happen again. Showing accountability and mature management helps reduce the damage of the crisis and repair your brand faster than saying nothing, or trying to assign blame to other parties.

Promote the Positives

As difficult as it is to let something like a public relations disaster go, address it and then move on. Distribute some positive news like a new product announcement, sponsorship of a non-profit organization, or employee recognition award. Give potential employees something good to find when they are researching your company.

Unhappy job candidates and employees who feel they were treated unfairly are blessed with an enormous podium on the internet and in the news to air their case, whether they do that publicly and openly for all the media to see or on anonymous review sites. Smart employers need to have a plan of action in place should they ever need to handle an employer branding disaster. By catching it early, addressing it properly, and moving forward, you can minimize the event’s impact on your employer brand and still attract well-qualified, A-players who want to work for a company like yours. 



Linda Le Phan
Senior Content Marketing Manager at kununu.

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