Five Main Strategies to Restore Image and Reputation According to Benoit

There are five strategies to repair image according to Benoit in his image restoration theory (1995) as cited in Benoit (1997), namely denial, evasion of responsibility, reducing offensiveness of event, corrective action, as well as mortification. Each strategy can be used for organization and individual, of course with some adjustment depend on the situation and requirement.

This theory offers five broad categories of image repair strategies, some with variants, that respond to such threats. Denial and evasion of responsibility address the first component of persuasive attack, rejecting or reducing the accused’s responsibility for the act in question. Reducing offensiveness and corrective action, the third and fourth broad category of image restoration, concern the second component of persuasive attack: reducing offensiveness of the act attributed to the accused. The last general strategy, mortification, tries to restore an image by asking forgiveness (Benoit, 1997).

Denial Strategy

The first strategy is denial, consists of two variants, which are simply denial and shift the blame.

Simply denial:

A firm may deny that the act occurred, that the firm performed the act, or that the act was harmful to anyone. For example, Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama alias Ahok first response over the Quran-insult accusation was simply denial, as he stated that he didn’t mean to insult while citing the al-Maidah verse during his speech in Thousand Island.

Shifting the blame

While shifting the blame is arguing that another person or organization is actually responsible for the offensive act. The convicted of murder Jessica, insisted the crime acted by the victim’s husband, Arif as she stated in one of a-ten-month series of trials (Solopos.com, 20 October 2016).

Evasion of Responsibility

The second strategy is evasion of responsibility, comes with four variants: provocation, defeasibility, accident, and good intention.

Provocation:

A person or a firm can say its act was merely a response to another’s offensive act, and that the behavior can be seen as a reasonable reaction to that provocation. For example, after the incident of riot that burned several viharas in Tanjung Balai sub-district, in North Sumatera, the sub-district head said the act was provoked by issues on social media, after a woman asked to lower the speaker volume of a mosque. (CNNIndonesia.com, 30 July 2016)

Defeasibility:

An individual or organization may allege a lack of information about or control over important elements of the situation. For instance, the driver who get netted for violated of odd-even numbered car policy in Sudirman street Jakarta mostly admitted not get informed on that rule implementation (Kompas.com, 27 July 2016).

Accident:

By this option, the company claims that the offensive action occurred by accident. Of the company can convince the audience that the act in question happened accidentally, it should be held less accountable, and the damage to that business’ image should be reduced.  For example, SpaceX says helium tanks may be to blame for catastrophic explosion, following the company’s rocket blew up on 1 September 2016, destroying Facebook’s $200 million satellite, as cited by Dailymail.co.uk on 28 October 2016.

Good intention:

Organization can suggest the offensive behavior was performed with good intentions. CJ, a minor who wrote and distributed handwriting flyers on Snapps restaurant was infected with the AIDS virus, said she was concerned about her friends and wanted to protect them from the diseases. (Fearn-Bank, 1996).

Reduce offensiveness

Reducing offensiveness is the third strategy, comprises six variants: bolstering, minimization, differentiation, transcendence, attack accuser, as well as compensation.

Bolstering:

An organization or individual may use bolstering to strengthen the audience’s positive feelings toward the itself, in order to offset the negative feelings connected with the wrongful act. Business may describe positive characteristics they have or positive acts they have done in the past. For example, Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan said that the company’s third quarter financial result show the resilience of their operating business in a tough environment and show the progress they are making toward restructuring the bank. Deutsche Bank is currently under public scrutiny for a USD14 billion fine from US Justice Department related to sales of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) (Reuters, 27 October 2016).

Minimization

Another possibility is to try to minimize the negative feeling associated with the wrongful act, as shown by Hillary Clinton by saying she is “confident” a new FBI probe linked to her emails will not change its original finding that she should not be prosecuted. (BBC.com, 29 October 2016)

Differentiation:

A firm or individual can employ differentiation, in which the act is distinguished from other similar but more offensive actions. As we can find in Ahok case, Ahok explained his words when mentioning the al-Maidah were taken out of context. Instead of insulting the Quran, he mentioned the verse because the verse is often used by his political opponents to encourage people not to vote for him as cited by The Jakarta Post, 7 October 2016. 

Transcendence:

Another way to reduce offensiveness is transcendence, which attempts to place the act in more favorable context. As performed by the Indonesian government when announced subsidy cut so that the government had much more money to develop infrastructure to encourage further economic growth (The Jakarta Post, 30 March 2016).

Attack Accuser:

Those accused of wrong-doing may decide to attack their accusers. For example, music producer Dr. Luke denied claims that he abused his singer Kesha and not responsible for her “starving” herself. Instead, Dr. Luke accused Kesha set negative press campaign against him as cited by BBC.co.uk. The legal battle has been going on between Dr. Luke and Kesha since November 2014. She asked to be released from her contract with Sony and Dr. Luke’s label Kemosabe Records, claiming he sexually and psychologically abused her.

Compensation:

It is the final form of reducing offensiveness. If it is acceptable to the victim, the firm’s image should be improved. For example, Pizza Hut Delivery management claimed has given compensation for the victims of damage caused by LPG gas explosion (Beritasatu.com, 28 October 2016).

Corrective Action

 The fourth strategy is corrective action, in which the company promises to correct the problem. This action can take the form of restoring the state of affairs existing before the offensive action, and/or promising to prevent the recurrence of the offensive act. For instant, Citibank promised to strengthen its internal control after the fraud case done by its former customer relationship manager Melinda Dee. The internal control strengthening was also encouraged by Bank Indonesia to be done by other banks to prevent the similar case occurs in the future (BBC.com, 7 March 2012), (Asiaone.com, 4 March 2013).

Mortification

The last general strategy for image restoration is to confess and beg forgiveness. For example, when a big flood happened in Bandung on Monday, 24 October 2016, the city’s major Ridwan Kamil through his twitter account immediately said apologize for the event and the act was praised and minimize negative comments from social media users. (Kompas.com, 24 October 2016).

Jakarta, 29 October 2016

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