Image Restoration Strategies

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Introduction For all human beings, mistakes are inevitable. Our ideology leads us to repair the damage and purify ourselves. On an individual level, recovery can be as simple as apologizing. For organizations and public figures, there are specific strategies used to restore a positive image. “Because blame occurs throughout human society and because face is important to virtually everyone, this phenomenon, a felt need to cleanse one’s reputation with discourse, occurs throughout our lives, public and private” (Benoit, 1995, p. 5). Public discourse is necessary only when the action is perceived as bad and the party in question is believed to be responsible for the act. It is human nature to make mistakes and value reputation; for these reasons a specific set of image restoration strategies is necessary. In Benoit’s (1995) book, Accounts, Excuses, and Apologies: A Theory of Image Restoration Strategies, he outlines five major types of strategies used to repair public image when faced with a crisis. It is important to analyze the situation carefully when choosing which strategies are most effective. If used improperly, they can worsen the credibility and exacerbate the damage. The five strategies, denial, evading responsibility, reducing offensiveness, corrective action, and mortification, are used to repair one’s image. Benoit and Image Restoration Denial The first strategy is denial. Either denying the act occurred or denying responsibility for it should be effective in restoring credibility in the public eye. However, if rational proof exists to prove the party is responsible, simple denial would not be a wise strategy. Another form of denial is shifting the blame. In this technique, the accused diverts attention to another party in an attempt to absolve their guilt. This strategy is effective because not only is the guilty party exonerated, but the audience’s
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