Much is expected of marketers and reputation repair specialists in times of crises. Even before a crisis appears, these people need to be on lifeguard mode, constantly looking around each corner to see if a danger is brewing and to address potential threats by setting up an infrastructure in advance.
When a crisis strikes, it’s certain that a part of it will occur online where it can get blown out of proportion and spread like wildfire. Digital catastrophes can appear anytime in this hyper-connected world, and the situation may encourage consumers either to appreciate the company more or to just leave it to languish based on its corporate response.
Organizations which commonly fight a good battle are those which possess “effective weapons” such as solid online presence and good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools and Online Reputation Management (ORM) methods. FedEx’s reply to a viral video showing one of its delivery men arrogantly dumping a TV set over a customer’s gate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s action against the deplorable behavior of the US marines against the dead Taliban fighters are two good examples of how to extenuate crises swiftly and effectively.
Companies know too well that precarious circumstances and their actions toward them shape their legacy. When facing deep predicaments, they know the one critical thing that could make all the difference—authenticity. Whatever the crisis is, companies are obligated to apologize, and they’ll have to mean it. A sincere apology is greatly shown when the company in question is able to back down when it’s at the wrong end of the conflict, willing to create policy changes, and admit and own up to its mistakes—all without pointing out that the other party should also be held liable for the conflict.
Time constraints may put pressure on businesses in making the right move, but this doesn’t give them a reprieve from investigating things surrounding the matter. As Dallas Lawrence, chief global digital strategist for Burson-Marsteller, would put it, “The only thing worse than saying nothing is saying the wrong thing.” Organizations know that they’ll have to back up their response with facts in order to effectively communicate their viewpoint and steer consumer perception.
In managing crisis, an authentic response isn’t just directed to the other party. Organizations should take into account how their employees are being affected and how they can help in resolving the issue. A sincere approach to employees may encourage them to support reputation repair campaigns, making them the organization’s most powerful allies.