Anybody who works in business or holds a media related job will do their best to convince you that there is nothing more important than your reputation. This is actually untrue, and though it may be unwise for somebody in the reputation management industry to tell you that your reputation doesn't matter, you deserve to know the truth.
Let me start by explicitly saying that reputation doesn't matter. That's right. It doesn't. It's intangible and everybody is going to perceive your reputation differently. Sometimes, there's a general consensus that some people are bad and others are good, but that won't stop a corrupt politician from moving to a remote village on the other side of the world to become a local celebrity. My point is that reputations don't matter and they certainly can't follow you everywhere.
Here's a major flaw with the way we treat reputations:
When a public figure becomes the centre of a controversy, most of the population is going to be against them. That's why they are thrust into the spotlight in the first place. Most people are angry at them or are concerned about whatever it is the person in question has or could have done. Headlines will tell you the individual is "disgraced" or cast out from their job or society.
Here's how it typically unfolds:
1. The public figure becomes the centre of a controversy or accused of something.
2. Media outlets publish negative media about the subject.
3. The public figure goes into hiding because of their own choice, PR or legal recommendations.
4. The public figure is punished legally, financially or socially.
5. The public figure attempts to reintegrate with society to resume their former life.
Every time this happens, the subject returns to a crappier version of the life they once led. They are far less confident because they've been shunned by society. Some even get paranoid and think they can't find a job because their reputation is holding them back.
Here's what I tell my clients when I do damage control for their reputations.
Your reputation doesn't matter. Public perception matters and we're going to change it.
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What matters is that a specific group of people with specific opinions and beliefs dislike you. I need you to demand the respect that is rightfully yours. Can you do that for me? Can you strategize and push forward with me?
Great! Now let's classify the people that dislike you by age group, political views, media influence and agenda. Let's take note of the media outlets that perpetuate negative stories about you and let's mine their reports for errors so that we can press legal charges or shake their credibility if it's within our means.
Now let's find people who express empathy for you and let's classify them by age group, political views, media influence and agenda. Let's also take note of the media outlets that offer a more fair, unbiased approach to their reporting and have pushed positive stories about you in the past.
Now let's silence the negative media or remove it if it's within our means. If it doesn't have good search ranking, let's hide it in the results or even unindexed it if possible.
Now let's amplify the positive media using our resources and connections. Let's get you doing some good things and let's get you seen doing them too.
Don't go into hiding. I want you smiling on the front page of the newspaper because you're a human being and you don't have to be perfect.
I'm going to need you to launch a company that pertains to your industry and incorporate it. You're a public figure and you have connections. If you're a writer, offer a ghostwriting service, if you're a musician, offer film scoring. Just launch a venture that can make you money if nobody wants to hire you.
Launch a company and incorporate it so that your personal assets aren't on the line for your business endeavors.
Do not spend any savings. I only want you to pay your bills and your legal fees if you have them.
Work behind the scenes of your company and let the friend be the face of it.
You can now restart your reputation and grow it through your business. It's even a legal entity! If you really want your personal reputation back, move somewhere where this story doesn't matter and if the job prospects are low, run a business remotely there.
The key to reputation management is strategy, aggressive content creation and manipulation and adaptability in your actual personal lif