How One Action Can Destroy More than a Personal Reputation

Big game hunting is back in the awareness of the global public with the recent killing of Cecil the Lion by an American dentist, Walter Palmer and the rumors that Jimmy John Liautaud, the owner of Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, is a big game hunter with many trophies to show. Remember back in 2011, the internet domain hosting company GoDaddy’s then CEO Bob Parsons came under fire for his killing of an elephant. Social media is playing a huge part in spreading outrage and news outlets are building on it.

How One Action Can Destroy More than a Personal Reputation

This is not a post about the ethics of killing Cecil the Lion and big game hunting in Africa, which is a multi-million dollar industry for that continent with a handful of countries receiving the most. What this post is about is how a business owner’s personal actions can damage their organization’s reputation and potential destroy their company.
How a business owner conducts themselves does have an impact on the organization’s reputation. For better or for worse. Especially if it is a small business. Reputation is everything to a small business. The loss of a handful of customers can often cause a small business to falter.  Add in bad word of mouth as well as social media outrage and that could break the business.
The employees and vendors of the American dentist, Walter Palmer, who shot and killed Cecil the Lion are painfully aware of aftereffects of their boss’s actions. Palmer’s practice is now closed and most likely staff will have to find other positions. Vendors that served the practice are left holding the bag. I am pretty sure Doctor Palmer never thought his personal actions would destroy his practice displacing staff and patients, but they have.

Social media has played a role

Social media played a huge role in this situation. Before social media, people who were angry at a business or a situation had limited options. They could tell their friends about their experience. They could conduct a one-on-one battle with the organization via letters or phone calls. Or they could try to get people outside their sphere of influence interested by writing a letter to the editor that might not be printed. Or put flyers up at the library or grocery store. They could boycott the business or picket in front of the shop.
With social media, the outrage has a global reach. Petitions were started against the dentist. Individuals took to online review sites to share their disgust. The dentist and his practice were basically digitally destroyed.

How can you protect your business?

No clear cut answer outside of as a business owner you need to be very aware that your personal actions can affect your small business. If you are going to engage in an activity such as big game hunting that many find socially unacceptable then you need to be prepared to deal with the outcomes of your actions.
When outrage happens then you need to act fast. That is where reputation and crisis management come into play. Get professional guidance to assist you navigate the social outrage minefield.

Need help? We can help you.

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