Crisis is inevitable. No organisation is immune to crisis and while some issues blow-over and spell doom, others are just minor glitches that just go unnoticed. But what probably is more unnerving is the fact that crisis situations do not come with a warning. One day you are the country’s favourite instant noodles brand and the next you are a health scare.
Therefore, it becomes imperative for brands to be prepared to handle crisis situations with care and maturity. While, it is true that every crisis is different and every industry has its own version of a kryptonite, there are some basic pointers that you must not ignore when dealing with a crisis.
BestMediaInfo.com spoke to brand experts MG Parameswaran, Brand Strategist, Founder, Brand-Building.com; Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc; Laura Ries, Co-founder, Ries & Ries; and Cajetan Vaz to understand what are the things that brands should keep in mind when dealing with a crisis.
The numero uno on this list is acceptance. Many a time brands go into denial mode and more often than not that can turn out to be disastrous. A brand that is ready to take responsibility, admit their mistakes and work to sever better in the future will eventually tide over choppy waters.
“Admit mistakes. Say you are sorry, loudly and often. Consumers are more often more offended by how a company handles a mistake or crisis than the actual crisis itself,” said Ries.
Don’t go into a shell:
Brands usually go into silent mode when a crisis hits, hoping everyone will forget the issue and move ahead. But it is pretty much impossible to move past a bad name in the day and age of internet. Not only does news spread fast and quick, the embers will burn long after the fire has been put out. So, it is best to address the issue as soon as possible and look to remedy the damage already done.
The worst mistake one can make when dealing with a crisis is trying to fabricate a false story around the situation. It is bad enough that a crisis did happen; to top it off with lies could end up being the death knell.
“It is best to be up front and honest with what you know and what you don’t know. No point in ‘spinning’ a new tale. Be straight and be honest. Your loyal consumers will forgive you, as brands have realised time and again,” said Parameswaran.
Nobody likes an arrogant snob and especially when that arrogant snob is at fault.
“If you need to have brand communication to counter an issue, do it in a confident tone and manner that is not pompous and aggressive, but honest and contrite. We've seen what happened it in the case of United Airlines,” said Vaz.
Seek the support of your brand loyalists:
We all saw what happened when Maggi was facing allegations of having MSG and lead in its noodles. Maggi loyalists stood by the brand and embraced it with open arms when it came back to shop fronts after a brief hiatus. Seeking the support of your brand loyalists and appealing to them is always a good idea.
“There is nothing better than your brand users stepping out to stand by you. It's more credible than a PR plug,” said Vaz.
Finally, you must plan ahead to avert a similar gaffe or tragedy in the future. Assuring the audience that you have learned from your mistakes and won’t be repeating them again will go a long way in winning back the trust of consumers.
“Set specific plans so that it won’t happen again. Let consumers know what your plans are,” said Ries.