Controlling The Flames When Your Business Comes Under Fire

United Airlines, Pepsi, and Dove are just a few of the numerous companies that are probably glad 2017 is over. From the disturbing video of a passenger being dragged off a plane to the tone deaf and widely mocked Kendall Jenner “joins a protest, brings peace to the world by offering a cop a soda” commercial, companies learned yet again just how costly a botched response can be.

United’s stock tanked before the bell as the video went viral. Pepsi mainly lost face, plus a few million dollars producing the spot and paying Jenner’s hefty talent fee.

As with any emergency, preparedness is key. Here are a few takeaways your business can learn from this past year’s social media fails.

Double-check everything.

The big question with the Pepsi spot was, “How the hell did it get on the air? Didn’t anybody notice, or speak up?” That’s why you want to check and double check anything that’s going to be seen by an audience, even if it’s an audience of one. Ask your team: are we sending the right message–or inadvertently sending the wrong message? Is there something going on in the news that may temporarily conflict with what you’re trying to accomplish? For instance, you don’t want to be promoting swim lessons during a massive hurricane. It just looks wrong.

Whether it’s a commercial, a video, social media, an emailed newsletter or anything else, get other eyeballs on it. Catching just one bad mistake could keep your work from unintentionally going viral, and/or getting you fired.

Develop an emergency strategy.

Have a response plan if you’re about to jump into controversy. This includes statements, news releases, and spokespeople ready to go. Even if you don’t know if controversy awaits, there should still be a response plan in place. Create a “How to Handle” guide with contact information for lead decision makers and a step-by-step action plan. The longer you wait, the worse the crisis can become.

Make a mistake? Admit to it.

Every business makes mistakes. But the ones that stand to recover easily are those that immediately and humbly admit to their mistakes. A quick response time and open, honest communication are key to helping a brand control their story and maintain good faith with its customers.

Listen and be present.

Be sensitive to the power of social media and don’t take everything personally. The customer isn’t angry with you, (s)he is frustrated with the product or brand as a whole. Let customers vent and address even small complaints from followers or others with grace and good sense.

When it comes to crisis, minutes truly count — whether you are in a REAL fire or a public relations firestorm. Make a plan, be prepared and when in doubt, trust the experts to help extinguish the flames. Is your business coming under fire? On The Marc Media has the experience to properly manage all of your crisis communications. Call (301) 545-0108 today for your free consultation.



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