Search for “Britt McHenry” on YouTube, and you’ll get about a dozen versions of the ESPN reporter’s rant against a tow company employee. Nearly one million people viewed the various videos of the tantrum that got the 28-year-old sports reporter temporarily suspended from the network.
Britt McHenry may forever be known as a mean girl. ESPN made this statement via twitter following the incident: “We are aware of a recent exchange between Britt McHenry and a towing company employee. We are now reviewing the matter with her.” If you’re putting out statements like this, you’re in full-fledged damage control.
Did ESPN’s brand take a hit from this employee? Not really, but unless your brand is as solid as the sports network, you should take heed from this example. Building a good reputation is much easier than rebuilding it. Too many times we‘ve seen a company’s brand suffer because of a rogue employee, someone who doesn’t have the same values as your business or someone who had an out-of-character moment. Every employee represents your brand everything from posts on social media to casual conversations.
And when one member of your team slips up, there’s a high probability the entire company will have to deal with it. What can you do today to protect yourself from brand damage?
- Familiarize your employees with company values and standards and hold them accountable. From Day 1, train your team on the messages and values you want your business to be known for, and the way you would like to be seen by people on the outside. Consider giving new employees a business card with your company values so they have a handy reminder.
- Help employees feel they are part a larger mission. Team-building activities, project launch committees and community service are all ways to connect employees to your larger mission. If employees are connected on an emotional level it is much easier for them to express those bonds day-to-day. It also gives them extra motivation to perform at their best.
- Have a social media policy. Don’t assume that everyone knows what’s acceptable — and more importantly, what’s not — on social media.
Your team members are walking billboard signs for your company. When clearly informed of your company values, they can be your biggest advertisers. Invest the time early on to properly train your employees and make sure they understand the business’ values and mission. It will pay off in the end.
When there’s little emotional connection, they can be your worst PR nightmare.