Forbes: How To Maintain Trust After A Founding Team Member Departs

Appetizer Mobile’s CEO, Jordan Edelson, was recently quoted in an article by posted Forbes. Check it out below and let us know your thoughts!


It was announced in September that Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the co-founders of Instagram, would be leaving the company. Months before, Howard Schultz stepped down as executive chairman of Starbucks.


No matter the reason, the departure of a founding member can risk destabilizing any organization as it struggles to convince its customer and investor base that the loss of one person does not mean the end of the road.


If the departing member had a prominent position or was among the most visible people in your organization, customers may have a hard time maintaining trust in your ability to continue catering to their needs during this transitional period.


To assuage your clients, you will need to be proactive and reinforce your brand message while being completely transparent about what goes on in your organization. To help, 12 members of the Forbes Agency Council share their best tips for maintaining consumer and investor trust when a foundational team member departs.


1. Stay Focused On Customers

Separate customer and investor — markets will react but also bounce back quickly with positive reinforcement, and most customers will not change their behavior patterns based solely on a regime change. Stay focused on customers and deliverables, because even a big apple leaving won’t shake a sturdy apple cart, and a company will withstand and grow from change if the foundation is solid. – Elizabeth Jean Poston, Helios Interactive, A Freeman Company


2. Put It All On The Table

It is in these moments that PR can be your greatest asset. Get ahead of potential questions with press releases and public acknowledgments on social media. When there is a lack of transparency (or it feels like it), this is when trust is fractured. Putting all information on the table (as soon as it is legally possible) can help lessen any blow to credibility. –Bernard May, National Positions


3. Be Proactive

When long-held positions in companies see new faces take over, it’s natural for investors and consumers to be concerned. But companies need to be proactive and use the opportunity to market the change as adding a fresh viewpoint, keeping the departure and arrivals positive in every aspect, including press and social media. Of course, a strong NDA that outlines what can be discussed helps too. – Rebecca Kowalewicz,Clearbridge Branding Agency


4. Reinforce Core Principles

Reinforcement of the original product/service core principles is critical during the leadership transition. Community transparency and engagement are also very important to provide reassurance of direction. Steer clear of making hasty decisions right after such a departure occurs. Lay out a clear path and direction for where the company is headed. –Jordan Edelson, Appetizer Mobile LLC


5. Stick To The Brand Message

It is a normal course of business for founders to leave when their companies reach an exit event like being acquired. Being consistent and sticking with the underlying brand message helps maintain normalcy during a transition. – Lisa Allocca, Red Javelin Communications


6. Be Open With Stakeholders

Honest and transparent communication with consumers and stakeholders is powerful. Think of them as personal relationships, and how you would want to be treated. With exec or structural changes, brands can remind stakeholders what they stand for and show that they stick to those values. Social media is great for sharing updates in real time, controlling the message and receiving feedback to prove you’re listening. – Brian Salzman, RQ


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