The Oscar night fiasco is the best example yet of how quickly a reputation can take a hit. Pricewaterhouse Coopers had a trusted name and solid reputation. They’ve been tabulating the Oscar winners for 83 years. But as it turns out in the new digital age, your reputation is only as good as the last Oscar category. Like trust, your reputation is built over years, but is destroyed in milliseconds.

The moment Warren Beatty was handed the wrong envelope for Best Picture in front of an audience of millions, the monstrous accounting firm went from powerhouse to punchline. Forget that this is a company that brings in $40 billion dollars a year. Forget their dedicated 250,000 employees who toil over delicate tax figures and and uber-complicated corporate number crunching.

The fact that it took 2 minutes, (an eternity in TV time,) and 3 separate acceptance speeches before someone from the company actually tried to correct the snafu only furthered their reputation troubles. News travels fast these days and bad news always travels faster. So here’s what we all can learn from this gaffe heard ‘round the world:

if you make a mistake, clean it up immediately 120 seconds is even too long, especially in this digital age and upon a world stage. When your name takes a hit, it sends sound waves funneling out into the atmosphere. The quicker you can deaden those sound waves, the better. Once the information is imprinted on someone’s mind without a correction, it’s difficult to remove it. Clean it up as soon as possible with all the facts available.

Silence is NOT golden Your lack of acknowledgment will likely be seen as guilt. Call in your troops. Create a marketing and public relations campaign. The right word from the right person can make all the difference.

You can survive a reputation hit. But as quickly as the damage happens, is as quickly as you need to respond. And as much as people love the drama of a juicy mistake, they also love to forgive.

People Will Forgive Apologize for your wrong doing. Tell people you know you made a mistake. Think about Washington DC Mayor Marrion Barry. He built a reputation as a civil rights activist, spoke at the 1984 Democratic National Convention, served as Mayor of Washington, DC and blew his reputation with 8 seconds of video showing him smoking crack. And so he apologized. He fell on the sword and said he used bad judgment. And after serving time in federal prison, he was reelected mayor of DC.

Protect your reputation. But if it takes a hit, act immediately.

If you’re looking for help building and protecting your reputation or would like to schedule a seminar for your employees, check out Etiquette University. The professors of protocol will be happy to assist you.And the Winner is-5 And the Winner is-6

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