“Canceled culture” first came about after the idea of “canceling” celebrities due to their problematic actions or statements. Merriam-Webster dictionary later connected “cancel culture” with the #MeToo movement, making the term even more popular. Eventually, the term found its way into mainstream politics. Today, canceled culture can be used to reject a person or a business when their behavior goes against the social norm – for example, when someone makes a racist or sexist comment.
Add COVID-19 into the mix and canceled culture has become even more prevalent with a push for brands to live up to their customer values. Here are three ways to mitigate damage to your brand and avoid being #canceled:
Be in the know:
If you or your brand is being compromised, your first instinct may be to speak up and defend yourself. Instead, take a breath and listen to what’s being said. Sign up for platforms like Google Alerts, Mention, Talkwalker and browse social media to listen before reacting. While it is never recommended that you wait too long to address the subject, it is important that you are prepared to discuss the issue at hand and avoid any more damage to your brand.
Stick to your talking points:
Work with someone you trust or enlist the help of a PR practitioner to develop a clear message that is consistent across all platforms. Jot down the main points that you want to deliver and stay the course. If you made a mistake, be honest about it and apologize. Afterall, we are all human and people will understand a mistake. Then, discuss how you are addressing this issue and what you will do moving forward to win trust.
Surround yourself with people you trust
When your brand is compromised, it is important to surround yourself with people you can trust that are willing to go to bat for you. If you don’t have a communications plan in place already, sit down and put one together. Share it with your supporters, staff and investors to further help you communicate your key points.
As we become more visible in everything we do, the idea that a person or a brand can be “canceled” is real. Pay attention to what is being said about you because if you don’t, someone else will.