In a Crisis? Image Restoration Theory to the Rescue

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” -Warren Buffet 

When a crisis hits your district, tapping into the Image Restoration Theory can be key to salvaging the crisis and the career you have worked earnestly to build.

Introduced by William Benoit in the late 90’s, Image Restoration Theory outlines strategies that can be used to restore one’s image in an event where reputation has been damaged. Outlined in Benoit’s book, Accounts, Excuses, and Apologies: A Theory of Image Restoration Strategies, the Image Restoration Theory consists of 5 strategies. Using one or a combination of the strategies denial, evasion, corrective action, mortification and reducing offensiveness can effectively maintain integrity and reputation when facing social catastrophe. 

When it comes to the evasion method, there are four varying approaches. Citing the incident as an accident, defeasibility, good intentions, and provocation are specific focuses to shifting blame in a dilemma when it applies. One or all of these subcategories of evasion can be infused to curate the best response. 

In the face of a potential threat of a crisis in the school system, evasion of responsibility can work in the below scenario, depending on execution. 

Scenario: Evasion as a Successful Strategy Amidst Crisis 

In March of 2022, a school in England caused outrage among parents by serving Muslim students (70 percent of the student body) pork sausage as opposed to vegetable sausage. 

A spokesperson for the school said:

 ‘On Thursday, there was an incident involving the catering company that provides our school meals which meant some pupils were served meat rather than the vegetarian option they had chosen.

‘We have taken this matter very seriously and have formally complained to the catering provider and the Food Standards Agency.’ 

 Which facet of the evasion method would you use to maneuver the above scandal?

A.) Accident- Shifting responsibility to the catering company.

B.) Defeasibility- Citing lack of knowledge or ability to know that the catering company would serve pork.

C.) Provocation- Claim that the act was committed in response to another wrongful act. 

D.) Good Intentions-Proclaiming that it was not the intention of the school to serve pork.

E.) Using two or more of the above.

Have the conversation with your leadership team and calculate how you would handle the scenario. Stay tuned for the next part of our Image Restoration Strategy Analysis!

Remain proactive-give Nichols Strategies a call to develop a plan before a crisis hits!