As almost every company learnt over the past year, dealing with a crisis is not easy. Whether it’s a crisis unrelated to your brand like coronavirus, or something closer to home like a social media scandal, the way you manage it can make or break your company.
Here are our top tips for what to do in these types of situations.
1. Re-evaluate your approach
It’s time to re-evaluate your digital marketing strategy and pause your scheduled posts.
Last year 9 out of 10 marketers delayed campaigns due to Covid-19. KFC advertising that focused on finger-licking after receiving complaints that it was inappropriate during a time when people are supposed to be practising good hygiene. This is just one example of a campaign that when initially planned was suitable for the company’s target audience, but if continued could have resulted in extreme negative backlash.
This shows just how serious you need to be about the content you share during times like this. You don’t want to share anything that could be perceived by someone as insensitive to the situation or your brand may come across as tone deaf.
However, depending on the situation you should continue to remain active online. This will help ensure that even if your customers aren’t purchasing from you right now, you can stay top of mind by considering their needs and providing value through challenging times.
For instance, throughout the pandemic content centred around mental health, keeping healthy, positive news was and continues to be of interest to consumers.
There are several ways to communicate with your clients, customers, employees, and everyone else who is invested in your business. The key methods are social media, your website and video calls.
Social media is one of the most important tools for communicating with your customers during crisis situations. It’s one of the first places they look for information about your business, closely followed by your website. Keep your customers updated about what’s going on with your business. Don’t assume that your customers already know something. If you are closed, tell them. If you have an upcoming event, let them know if its cancelled or rescheduled. Never leave customers in the dark during situations like this, it can lead to them feeling frustrated and abandoned.
In a situation where your company has done something wrong or upset customers in any way you need to address it publicly.
Everyone likely remembers the backlash Pepsi received for their 2017 ad featuring Kendal Jenner. Initially the brand released a statement defending the advert “This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that’s an important message to convey.”
But within 24 hours they pulled the ad, paused the campaign and released a second statement: “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologize.”
The speed and honesty of their response was appreciated by customers and helped them to regain control.
Many companies have tried dealing with a crisis like this by ignoring it and deleting comments, or even turning them off completely, and this does not work. It actually makes the situation worse. Instead, you should release a video or official statement acknowledging the mistake and offering your explanation. Take time to form your response, do not angrily respond or lose your brand voice.
Don’t forget to communicate internally too. Keep your staff up-to-date and make sure everyone’s on the same page.
3. Learn from the crisis and stay prepared
After you’ve made it through the crisis take time to get your team together and talk about it. Be critical, identify what worked and what didn’t. Create a document of everything you did and whether it worked. If you had a plan going into it, was it implemented properly? What elements of the plan need to be changed?
Between 2014 and 2019 over 69% of leaders experienced at least one corporate crisis — with the average number of crises experienced being three. That’s why its vital to have a crisis communication management plan in place just in case anything goes wrong.