We’re now two weeks into the Tiger Woods scandal and it has already cost him a lucrative contract with his sponsor Accenture.
His deal with Nike alone is worth $40 million a year. Fortunately for Tiger, at this stage, Nike still has his back with Phil Knight, Nike’s chairman, referring to Tiger’s shenanigans as a ‘minor blip.’
But what should have Tiger known and what should you be doing to protect your personal brand if you find yourself backed into a corner?
I’ve suggested seven fatal sins below.
Are you guilty of committing any of these yourself?
Don’t forget that almost everything you do can now be recorded.
With video phones, Facebook, Youtube, Myspace and Twitter, suddenly nothing is personal. The fact of the matter is that if you stuff up it is more than likely than ever that someone will be around to record it.
In Tiger’s case, it was a voicemail that did him in. In your case, it could be a client bagging you on Twitter.
If you want your personal brand to be protected then remain transparent and, of course, be honest at all times. If a relationship is turning sour within your personal network, for any reason, fix it – immediately – or potentially face the consequences at a later date.
Don’t underestimate the power of gossip… against you!
Our society has an addiction to gossip. We pass on information (virally) because we get a kick out of educating others and the sense of power and importance it gives us.
What does this mean for your personal brand? Absolutely everything!
Are your customers getting a kick out of sharing great news about your service or are they actively discrediting you to others? Trawl the internet to find out what they are really saying. Individuals will always be nice to your face but when push comes to shove many have no hesitation speaking their mind when given an anonymous soap-box.
Truly delve into your network and befriend key individuals of influence. If anyone has a bad thing to say about you, your network will alert you to it. When this happens you can act on this information without ever having to diffuse the situation directly with the individual at the heart of the issue.
In fact, if you’ve built a solid network, you might find that others will diffuse these situations for you.
Don’t attempt to go it alone if things get out of hand.
Do publicists always get it right? Of course not, but they can assist you in rectifying a potentially fatal situation. If your business has upset more than one customer lately, then it may be an idea to get advice from a publicist or strategist whose job is to turn a negative situation into a prospective cash spinner.
Will Tiger Woods bounce back? Are you kidding me?! As long as he keeps playing spectatular golf (doing his job well) the big bucks will return. It may cost him financially in the short term but more so personally in the long term. Family breakdown is never pretty. At least his publicist will always be close by. (Cha-ching!)
Don’t get ‘controversial’ without a plan.
It is absolutely fine to use controversy in your media campaigns and around your personal brand to cause a stir. But beware. Difficulties will arise when you do not put this tactic into context.
One of the biggest stars on the planet right now is Lady Gaga who has reportedly sold an estimated 300 million plus copies of her debut album ‘the fame.’
In recent times, she has been criticised by the media for wearing outlandish outfits to attract attention. In an Ellen interview, she put this into context by revealing that in high school she was the outcast and that her performance pieces and outfits were simply a part of expressing her true self to therefore encourage others to express themselves.
Understand that you can be outlandish and make risky moves in your business or personal lives. But you need to be able to articulate the reasons why you behaved the way you did.
Don’t be a social media misfit.
If you misbehave in business, you’ve as good as got a gun pointed at your head with social media as the bullet.
One direct hit on Twitter, Facebook or Youtube and you could be set to lose clients and thousands in lost revenue. For larger companies this may not be quite so worrying yet but for smaller business with smaller networks the impact could be detrimental.
A number of years ago, a well known IT company based in Melbourne built up a substantial net worth through networking and events as its primary marketing strategy. Its client network was largely built around a monthly gathering the company put on. It was this same network that built this business, banded together and took them out when their customer service lagged dangerously behind.
And this was even before Facebook and Twitter was created.
Understand that each action you take has the potential to create a firestorm. Always get third party advice on marketing or PR campaigns to understand the number of ways one situation can be perceived.
Don’t tackle your critics in public. (Have your friends do it for you.)
Some months ago now, I was personally bagged on Twitter due to a misunderstanding. The critic didn’t use my name but it was clear that I was the subject of the criticism.
As soon as I became aware of the comment, I recorded screenshots of the tweets and rang the female in question directly to confront the issue. This ‘so called’ social media expert went onto explain that she posted the tweet in the heat of the moment.
Understand that even if you delete a tweet from your profile it has already appeared on the pages of potentially thousands of your followers.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, ring the individual and speak to them to find out what is going on (don’t use email) and come to a solution. The worst case scenario is that you’ll get the ‘wind up’ them so it doesn’t happen again.
What happened to the attacker? It cost her three speaking engagements that I know of and on top of that she educated her Twitter followers that she was quick to anger. Not a great way to build a personal brand.
As far as I’m concerned tweeting when angry is like driving when drunk. It’s going to end in a car crash. Just don’t do it!
Don’t she away from your mistakes.
Every successful individual at some point in their life will go through hardship and have to fight their way back to the top. Should this happen to you, just hope that you have done the proper groundwork and don’t have individuals within your network who will take pleasure from your poor fortune.
Tall poppy syndrome is alive and well in Australia. Whether you’re a well known individual or you largely keep to yourself, there will always be at least one competitor that would love to get their dirty hands on your client base.
One way to get around this is to build a foundation of loyalty within your client network by being honest about your shortcomings. Instead of attacking you, you will no doubt gain a following that respects your transparent and down to earth approach.
Some of my biggest business mistakes have resulted in thousands in extra revenue due to the honesty in which I approached a situation. Admitting that you’ve made a mistake is not only cathartic but it is also a wise business decision if you want to maintain long term business relationships.
After reading these seven fatal sins you may believe that I am possibly a cynic on the nature of human kind.
Fortunately, the absolute opposite is the case. However, we all need to understand that bad things sometimes happen.
Managing your personal brand is no different to managing your businesses brand. It is absolutely essential. Any development with the capacity to tarnish your reputation must be dealt with immediately or suddenly you might find that all your ‘ex-girlfriends’ have come back to haunt you.
Ben Angel is the author of the new controversial book, Sleeping Your Way to The Top in Business – The Ultimate Guide to Attracting & Seducing More Customers. Go to www.benangel.com.au to grab your copy today.