United Airlines. Fyre Festival. Delta. The last few weeks have seen a myriad of corporate apologies grace the PR scene. Often however, these apologies have lacked sincerity, and have done nothing to mitigate the situations that each of these companies have gotten themselves into. Organisations make mistakes, but a well thought out apology can be the difference in whether it's a communication triumph or disaster. So, here's what makes a good corporate apology.
Sincerity reigns supreme
"I'm sorry." Two little words that many organisations seem to have forgotten how to say. If you want to redress a mistake your company has made, however, it's essential to actually apologise, instead of using PR speak or skirting around the subject. Customers will be happier and a lot more likely to use your services again if they can see that you are genuinely sorry.
Talking is key to this. A "no comment" situation will make you seem faceless and unconcerned by the mistake your organisation has made.
To our guests and staff—thank you again for your all patience as we navigate our next steps. We owe you an apology (con't)
— Fyre Festival (@fyrefestival) April 30, 2017
Understand and fix
This is integral to an effective corporate apology. You should do your research so you understand how a situation was allowed to happen, and then show you are doing everything you can to fix the issue. This could include monitoring Twitter or going out and talking to the customers who've been affected, so you can find out just how the company's mistake has caused them difficulties. The details of both how the situation has come about and how you intend to fix it should be present in the wording of your apology.
Often, it's a good idea to make people available specially to answer calls or questions from customers regarding the issues they're having with your product or service.
Choose the right medium
Your apology should go out on the same platform that the mistake was originally made. For instance, if your company's under fire because of something it said on Facebook, it should use Facebook to address it.
Consider using video to make an apology – if you choose the right person and have the right wording (avoiding corporate speak), your company may seem a lot more personable and sincere than if it were to simply write out an apology on its website.
Visit our Insights page for more information and communication trends.