Many companies face the reality of legal action at some point. According to statistics, 36% and 53% of small firms get involved in at least one lawsuit during any given year. Whether an employee is filing a lawsuit or a customer is taking issue with your product, these cases are often costly and time-consuming. But they can also be incredibly damaging to your company’s public image.
How you handle a legal issue will say a lot about your company and can either help or hurt your business in the long run. So, how can you avoid the latter? Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when it comes to protecting your company’s public image in a legal issue:
Get Ahead of the Story
Media coverage of legal action against your company can be damaging. Still, you can do damage control by getting ahead of the story. If possible, you can issue your statement before the story goes to the public. Doing so will allow you to present your side of the story and frame the narrative favorably for your company.
Of course, you don’t want to make any false statements or promises that you can’t keep. But by taking control of the news, you can at least ensure that your company gets portrayed positively from the start.
However, an ongoing legal battle might require a more hands-off approach. In these cases, you don’t want to say anything that anyone can use against you later. Although you can still issue statements to the media, you must be careful about what you say.
If you’re unsure whether something will hold up in court, it’s probably best to avoid saying it altogether. It would also help if you could consult with your lawyer and develop a strategy for handling media inquiries. This way, you can be sure you’re not saying anything that could jeopardize your case.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
When legal action gets taken against your company, it’s essential to keep the lines of communication open, both internally and externally.
Your employees are likely to be just as concerned about the situation as your customers are. If they don’t know what’s happening, they might start to jump to conclusions or spread rumors. So, you must keep them in the loop and let them know what you’re doing to resolve the issue.
It’s also important to be transparent with your customers. They need to know that you’re taking their concerns seriously and working on a resolution. If possible, update them on your progress and tell them what they can expect next.
You can do this through email, social media, or traditional news outlets. Just be sure that you’re consistent with your messaging and that everyone is on the same page. When you’re always honest and upfront, your customers will be more likely to trust and support you, even amid a legal battle.
Cooperate with Authorities
If your company faces a serious investigation, it’s essential to cooperate with the authorities. It doesn’t mean you’re admitting guilt, but it shows that you’re taking the situation seriously and willing to work with them.
This situation often happens to companies with immigrant workers. Because of the strict immigration laws, it’s not uncommon for employers to face an audit. If this happens to your company, the best thing you can do is cooperate with the authorities. Attend the scheduled immigration bond hearing and provide any requested documents. Not only will this send a positive message to the public, but it will also help you avoid additional penalties.
Suppose you’re willing to go above and beyond. In that case, you can also try to work with the authorities to create a beneficial solution for everyone. Doing so will show that you’re not just trying to minimize the damage but also caring about resolving the issue.
Own Up to Your Mistakes
No company is perfect, and chances are good that you’ll make a mistake at some point. If you do, the best thing you can do is own up to it.
It doesn’t mean you should take all the blame or offer a public apology if you’re not at fault. But if there’s any truth to the allegations against your company, it’s essential to acknowledge them. It will help you build trust with your customers and show that you’re taking the situation seriously. It might even help you avoid or resolve a lawsuit down the road. This way, you can protect your company’s public image and reputation.
Maintaining a positive public image is essential for any business. In times of legal trouble, it’s crucial to be careful about what you say and how you say it. By clarifying the issue, being open to the case details, cooperating with the authorities, and owning up to your mistakes, you can show the public that you’re taking their concerns seriously. Following these best practices can protect your company’s image and reputation.