Bouncing back from reputation damage: What you can learn from OJ Simpson

With former football star set to walk out of prison in October, we take a look at how you can protect your reputation.

Arguably one of the most controversial and talked about murder cases of all time; Orenthal James Simpson vs The People of Los Angeles was one of the biggest trials of the century. Charged with murdering Nicole Brown and and Ron Goldman in 1995, the all-star former running-back, actor and public figure divided an entire nation over a simple question: Did he do it?

Acquitted of his crime, ‘The Juice’ was to face the courts again in 2007, facing charges of armed robbery and assault alongside four accomplices in an attempt to reclaim football memorabilia that he felt he owned. Nine years into his 33 year sentence, the football starts reputation has taken a battering in the rub up to his early release on parole. His public standing has dropped and you would be hard pressed to find an American who thins he is a good character. Only seven per cent of Americans now think he is innocent of murder in a recent poll.

The 70 year old was granted early release on parole this week which has brought Simpson back into the public eye. In light of this, we take a look at how you can save yourself from embarrassment and protect your reputation from being tarnished.

Prepare your disaster recovery plan

The first step to protecting your reputation is to plan for the worst. Having a recovery plan in your back pocket for when disaster strikes can be a reputation saver.

This could be crafting a blanket statement or press release that can be customised as and when needed, or making an easily-accessible contacts sheet in case you need to bulk-contact employees out of office hours. You could also consider communicating a media plan with your employees – if any of them were to be contacted by a member of the press, what should they say, or whose information should they pass on to direct any media enquiries to the right place?

Fake apologies can be spotted a mile off

When communicating with a sceptical, displeased or angry audience, their radar for inauthentic apologies will be incredibly sensitive. A convoluted explanation will ring alarms as it feels like excuses are being made, instead of getting straight to the point with a heartfelt apology.

Some companies are reluctant to lead with an apology as they don’t want to be seen as accepting blame. However, it is not up to you to decide how your customers should feel – if there is anger or upset, an upfront apology is the best way to let them know you understand how they’ve been affected and save your reputation.

Be honest, be humble and be upfront.

What happens in your company doesn’t stay in your company. It’s a safe rule to abide by all year round, but particularly in times of high stress or uncertainty, err on the side of caution by assuming that any internal communications will be seen externally.

Size really doesn’t matter

Remember – size of business does not necessarily correlate with the size of the media storm you can end up in.

We’re all humans and we all make mistakes (whether we like to admit it or not!), but in the age of digital media, mistakes can be easily thrown into the limelight and the resulting coverage can grow exponentially – no matter how small or large your company is.

With a media storm likely to descend on Simpson in the coming months, businesses who learn from his mistakes and protect their own reputation will be more likely to find success and survive disaster.

Owen Gough

Owen Gough

Owen Gough is a reporter for He has a background in small business marketing strategies and is responsible for writing content on subjects ranging from small business finance to technology...

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