Building and honing in on your brand’s reputation should not be an afterthought as it is being put through the ringer. Whether it’s a social media mishap, a tweet fail by an employee or a truly rich CEO scandal—the process of building brand equity to ensure your company survives a crisis begins years before any crisis actually materializes.
According to Flavorwire, the best—and arguably the most humorous—social media crises are born when an employee forgets to log out of their company’s social media account and posts on their behalf. This happened to the Red Cross when an employee tweeted, “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer…. when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd.” The company acted quickly, deleted the post and responded with a follow up tweet, “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.”
Building a positive company image and honoring your brand promises is what’s going to get you through a business crisis – most of them anyway. Just as each industry has its own language, so too should a company establish a language to communicate its messages and build conversations in the right context during troubling times.
When Lululemon, a leading athletic wear company, had to recall black yoga pants due to a manufacturer defect that made the garments see-through, consumers were quite agitated. But, according to PR Daily the company practiced “textbook” crisis PR by creating a humorous, yet apologetic set of messages—one being, “We want to be transparent with you.” Clever.
Plan ahead to avoid escalating the problem. CoppyPressed illustrates a few things to keep in mind when developing a social media crisis plan, but these tips extend into the non-digital world as well:
- Designate a spokesperson so that all communication flows through this person before it goes out. “When one person is in the driver’s seat, the message can stay on point.” This goes for online too – ensure all individuals who have the passwords to social media platforms know whether or not they are allowed to post during a crisis.
- Prepare responses ahead of time by doing research. As most crises are unpredictable, it’s impossible to know exactly what you will need to say beforehand. Create a set of basic responses that can be adjusted as necessary, all while maintaining the correct tone and messaging.
- Listen, read and respond to shareholders’ comments. Depending on the specific crisis situation, an email account, phone number or forum might be necessary to allow for customer complaints. Knowing where you are going to direct your shareholders for comments is important if you want to avoid their concerns being posted on every social media platform.
- Don’t delete the negative comments, as much as it pains you to do so. As long as the comment is non-threatening and non-offensive, let it remain on your wall, feed or website. This allows your company to be transparent, which is important to your shareholders and to your brand.
If you have a plan and something goes awry, your company can focus on preserving its image rather than having to re-build it altogether. How your organization reacts in chaotic times, carries itself and responds to the needs of shareholders, are the drivers of public perception. “Hope for the best, expect the worst,” and always plan ahead. Thoughts?
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