How a brand handles itself in a crisis is one of the clearest indications of what that brand actually stands for. Any mission statement is quickly forgotten when the company’s misstep or product failure is going viral. In our currently climate of Tweets, memes, and customer reviews, the press release of yesteryear expressing “regret” over the events in question is hopelessly outdated and looks, even in a best case scenario, disingenuous.
Once the crisis is upon you, it is critical to focus on the future. The past is gone, you cannot change what has happened, nor should you try to “spin” it.
- Take responsibility for what’s happened. Own it fully; accountability is paramount for that most elusive of PR sentiments to convey:
- Apologize. A meaningful apology is paramount if you’re going to move forward. Then do so, quickly, by offering a call to action. This call to action should be significant and show that you are sincere in making the changes required.
- Get ahead of the story that’s being told by others. Don’t wait for a game plan. Your proactive response IS the game plan until you realize the full scope of the problem.
- Be present and monitor your social media. Assume that a backlash is coming. Even if you don’t consider your social media presence especially critical to your brand identity, people will check your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and even Instagram and won’t miss an opportunity to comment if your message isn’t out, front and center, indicating your position and your call-to-action.
- Remain transparent as to how you’re planning to resolve the situation. There is little to take issue with if your message remains consistent throughout your management team and you’re taking clearly visible steps to right the wrong.
Failing to recognize the ripples that bad PR can cause can cost you clients, affect your brand, and do incalculable damage to your reputation. It is important to formulate a plan to deal with potential crisis while the horizon is smooth. Navigating a PR disaster from a sinking ship is not for the faint of heart and can lead to a deepening of the crisis by even the most well-meaning advocates of your company and product.
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