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5 Steps for Crafting an Optimal Apology

There are a lot of ways to go about an apology. Just look at some of your favorite songs.

OneRepublic says, “It’s too late to apologize… it’s too late!” Meanwhile, we have the Justin Bieber asking “Is it too late now to say sorry?” And nowadays we have Demi Lovato saying, “Sorry Not Sorry,” which complete contradicts the Bryan Adams classic “Please Forgive Me.”

Well, what is the right way to apologize, especially if you’re doing so on behalf of your company?

Just as the Biebs has a different reason for asking for forgiveness than Bryan Adams, each and every apology scenario for companies is different. Regardless of the situation, there are some underlying thoughts to keep in mind.

In a recent survey of The Firm staff, here are the five key steps for putting your best apology foot forward and preserving your reputation:

  • – Acknowledge what was done wrong.
  • – Address the impact it caused and avoid sidestepping.
  • – Take responsibility.
  • – Be genuine.
  • – Focus on the future.

As for some supplemental dos and don’ts, our staff has some pro tips:

Do: Make it short and sweet.

Do: Follow up your words with actions, outlining ways to resolve the issue.

Do: Be strategic with post-apology media opportunities. Certain interviews may not be the best for a client after they issue an apology, since it may be loaded with questions they may not be able to respond to. Post-apology interview opportunities should be vetted with care.

Don’t: Delay an apology. To utilize a grocery analogy: When you’re walking into a grocery store and someone bumps you in the shoulder, your reaction will depend on whether they apologize or not. If they automatically apologize, you will generally accept it and move on. But, if they don’t apologize, you will become upset and most likely cut them off.

Don’t: You don’t always have to jump to the quickest, easiest medium for an apology. Consider how folks will react. An apology tweet may not be appropriate whatsoever for some scenarios, whereas it may be perfect for others.

The bottom line? Apologies should not be taken lightly and often take quite a bit of finesse, thought and compassion.

If you or your company are stuck in a difficult situation and need professional guidance, it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask for help. Consulting your attorney and/or legal experts may be the right step in some instances. The Firm Public Relations & Marketing is also happy to chat with you – in full confidence and where appropriate – to work toward a solution.

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I have worked with The Firm Public Relations & Marketing for more than 10 years and they are more than just business partners, they function like an extension of my marketing department. Their strategic expertise extends beyond traditional public relations initiatives. They produce tactical programs with dedication and proficiency that earn tangible results.

Lisa SantwerVice President, Marketing & CommunicationsComprehensive Cancer Centers