If anyone had told Amarachi Chukwudi that she would have to live in hiding for more than a year, scared to live her life the way she was used to, she would have sneered at the person.
Amarachi, Cofounder of AL Media, an Influencer, Content Creator, Brand Ambassador and Communications Strategist, had everything going for her. She was an ambassador to top brands, had cool influencing gigs and had a company she had cofounded with her friend. With over 56 thousand followers on Instagram and still counting, Amarachi was leveraging heavily on her social currency to build an upscale and trendy media company. But all these came crashing down when she mixed up with a supposed investment company.
She was brought on board as an Ambassador for SU Global, a Forex Trading company, and in her role, she was tasked with being the face and voice of the company. She used her influence to bring in several investors who poured millions into the company. The company burst after a while, and many investors lost their hard-earned money. In her case, it was a little bit more complicated, as she was also emotionally involved with the company’s CEO, and they were in the process of getting married. Hence, when the story hit the internet, one strong rumour was that they had both planned to defraud people, make a ton of money, get married and run away.
When the scandal hit sometime in February 2021, Amarachi must have thought it would blow over soon. According to her, she received a February text from one of the investors about delayed payment. She immediately contacted Samuel Uko, the company’s CEO, to get an explanation. He responded that it was just an organizational issue and that things would be sorted out soon. She believed this and went on with her duties. She kept constantly apologizing to and trying to manage the crisis with investors, and at some point, even had to make payments from her pockets. But the matter seemed to get out of hand every day; she started getting death threats and even had to go into hiding.
For a year, she lived in hiding, had to suspend her business and stay away from the public. When issues like these occur, it not only affects the personal reputation of the person, every human and institution connected suffers a hit too. It is not rare to see CEOs lose their businesses or have their businesses suffer severe losses when there is a hit on their brand. Surviving requires a lot of skill and proper handling. And this is what Amarachi did.
Firstly, she issued an unreserved apology, took full responsibility, showed empathy, and didn’t deflect or pass blame. The apology note was the first post on the Instagram handle for close to a year, and it came with a lot of backlash as people poured their anger on her. But she didn’t stop there; she wrote a detailed piece explaining her side of the story and cleared her name. This was a game-changing piece, as it began to change the perception of her followers, who were getting the full gist for the first time.
Somehow, Amarachi has been able to extricate herself from this and is looking to move on in business and life. What’s the lesson here to learn? For us at #TheBossApproach, it is exciting how she intelligently navigated the murky waters of personal brand scandals. CEO scandals hit the internet now and then and, in most cases, if not resolved well, always bring about devastating effects.
Imagine a CEO caught with his pants down, much to the horror of his wife. To make matters worse, just a few weeks before the incident, he had joined a national pledge for high-powered business people to be faithful to their spouses. Now, there is a scandal about the actual affair, and there’s also the added irony of breaking the pledge. This could wreck the business. If a scandal is bad enough, the person will be hit from every side – editorials in the newspaper, on social media, angry emails, the works.
Here are some ways to handle a scandal as a CEO:
- Act Quickly
- One of the worst things you can do is ignore the scandal and hope it all goes away. You want to act as fast as you can, not rashly, but everything else you’re doing should be put on hold while you solve the problem. After all, if the scandal is big enough, your other duties will vanish when the company folds anyway.
- No Cover-Ups
- Telling everybody to go into the break room and hide until the storm is over is not the best thing to do. The more you ignore the problem, the worse it stands to get. The angry mobs will get more agitated, and your silence will speak volumes. You have to respond in some way.
After the apology and subsequent clarifications, it’s time to get back on track. Let the public know what you’re doing to make up for everything. This is the time to show the people that you are moving on and facing the business of leading the company.