Can Your Company Overcome Crisis Communication In The Middle Of 2020
Written by Angel Mora
The biggest mistake possible after managing a venture off the ground is believing that the only concern left is to increase its assets (thing can only go uphill from here). But often, peace precedes the storm…
When there’s Crisis Communication knocking on your door, your entire team must resort to developing a set of resources in order to protect the brand; That’s why today at Media Coverage, we’re going to teach you how to shield your company for properly facing the worst-case scenario in digital media; earning even more along the way.
The preamble for change
Contrary to what the dizzying pace of the market seems to suggest, Crisis Communication often responds to overlooked patterns and anomalies within the company’s operation or the state of current relationships with customers.
According to Forbes, it is at this point leaders have the chance to recognize “bad symptoms” and address them before they escalate.
Such signals can come in the form of adaptability failures. For example, if you look over the sales numbers and pay attention to their variants, you might notice certain irregular patterns. Perhaps the popularity of one product or salespoint over others can be attributed to nonfinished process renewals – which include both production and distribution.
At the same time, business structures may be displaying indicators that are worth scrutinizing. Thereby including the stance of the population in specific economic or political climate as well as internal performances from collaborators — ultimately falling on the overall engagement obtained by the campaign.
Keep in mind that what are now considered simple variations could lead to major conflicts in the future to be considered as threats to the brand’s online image.
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What does Crisis Communication look like?
It only takes a poorly executed plan, an inventory error, or even something like the (now not so) improbable drop in oil prices; suddenly everything you’ve worked so hard for is on the verge of collapsing. Meanwhile, the greatest manifestation of a crisis is the disproportionate outrage on social networks, which exposes how audiences respond to the need for consequences taking place.
What’s interesting about terms such as backlash and the follow-up “cancellation” is nothing but a new take on social sentences in the hands of the masses — a phenomenon present in society since its conception. The difference lies, in how recently, due to the Internet, every opinion has become just as valid as the next one.
Hence, and as we suggested at the beginning of this article, even though trolls and haters are common characters, not all communication crises develop the same characteristics. In terms of media, there are different variants, but we’re going to dab into the most recurring two, which are:
- The message sent by one of your campaigns or corporate contents is being perceived as counterproductive or offensive: In this case, the entire image of your business in the collective consciousness is at risk. One of the most recent cases was Kevin Hart hosting the Oscars.
- Your product or service isn’t meeting the expectations held by your clientele. Although it surely represents a considerable loss of money, it is not the worst of scenarios. The real financial hazard comes from a latent domino effect; situations in which empires like Elon Musk’s have managed to overcome.
The severity of the backlash will always be measured by the percentage of negative mentions on social media, actions taken by clients or activists, or the drop in sales — consequently, the share value. That is the outcome entrepreneurs fear the most.
Once the root of the problem has been identified by the team, it is time to talk about what can be done right now.
Thankfully, unlike the natural human response — which relies on improvisation and the adrenaline-fueled response — enterprises have the engine to react methodically and coordinated as a whole.
The main basis for a plan must be based on maintaining or recovering a good reputation and presence in the media. That is the case of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg. This technological emporium survived a significant share of public scrutiny this past 2019, after the controversy over the leak of how its main social media platform sells personal data to the benefit of advertisers.
What a real-life Crisis Communication plan looks like
When advising all of our clients, we make special emphasis on our 4 key steps for any containment and correction strategy, which we will then follow to ensure the correct function of their business.
Step 1. The written plan.
In-house communication is imperative. Therefore, leaders have to make clear in a document what the general guidelines to take into account are. This should be exclusively accessed by a hand-picked crew and tactical collaborators. The ultimate goal is to project and deliver unity
Said plan – fundamentally adaptable for changes – should determine: whether or not having an official message or official statement, distribution of the message (social networks or press), amount of information to share, and waiting period for new guidelines.
Regarding actions, it will benefit you to apply the following model:
- Delegating essential tasks that involve alleviating the pressure (writing a statement, dealing with partners or spokespersons) to responsible personnel. These must’ve proven the ability to maintain things under control.
- In turn, demand feedback in precise formats (spreadsheets, graphs, and reports), and maintain order while coordinating from the executive role. Also-
- Deliver the administration of communication channels (profiles and social media accounts) to one expert or group of professionals – as you can see, this is not the time to count on non-essential staff only capable of attending and answering trivial questions about prices and locations.
Step 2. Anticipation.
Your communication team must have in-depth knowledge about what is the matrix of opinion handled. Thanks to social media, it is really easy to find the original narrative and trace its development by followers, influencers, blogs, and conventional means, working on preventing the spread of the backlash.
Consistent monitoring should be available for providing the particulars on the exact moment and reason the inconvenience took place. Of course, it’s impossible to avoid bad press in its whole, but you can arrange the response given.
One of the ways other big names in the industry make sure that the brand continues afloat is by stopping and reconsidering the marketing strategies carried on up until that point. Even if there’s already a posting schedule settled mind that, above all, the real responsibility placed on your shoulders is to ensure the company’s finances and recovering a normal pace afterward.
That environment implies finding having an answer to the following questions:
- Do the posts scheduled on corporate platforms and media features enter in conflict with any segment of the written plan?
- Offers and other personalized engagement methods (mail-marketing and newsletters) could intensify the problem?
- The content scheduled to be released on social networks can fall into the field of bad taste or not acknowledging the current crisis?
- Contracts with influencers and mediums can be tailored to create an efficient counter-offensive mechanism?
- Are the service and product catalogs about to be released or extended, and if so, will it be necessary to postpone them for another time?
Step 3. Interaction with the outside world.
Online, information is currency and it should always flow perfectly between your brand and the end-user. Whether it’s to clear up a misunderstanding or take the blame (whose methods we’ll spell out later), the purpose is to inspire trust and transparency. If there are authority media outlets or influencers involved, consider addressing them via email or direct message.
Additionally, you must weigh in about other ramifications of the crisis, the level of projection that the current situation can reach. Nowadays with the number of events happening simultaneously and the ease of crowding, a local conversation can easily become global.
Let’s remember that beyond numbers and logos, modern business relationships with clients take place on a human level. Avoid giving any excuse for your competitors to take the lead and let the brand-to-customer bond to be broken.
Limit brand action to only sharing relevant information. But above all, it’s imperative that an urgent solution to the problem is promoted; which brings us to the fourth point.
Step 4. Final resolution
All right. You are already complying with the previous points: there is a team working on mitigating the impact of the crisis, you have a perfect knowledge of the current course of public opinion towards your brand, the brand has given rise to the conversation and all that while looking for coming up with the best solution possible.
The crisis will create a tense environment, however, it would be the time to stay focused, think about the best way to deliver an answer that satisfies as many people as possible and can even put things in your favor.
Then, how are you going to find an effective solution? By avoiding the most common mistakes even the big corporations have committed, such as:
- Involving emotionality in decision making. Think about everything you have already achieved: Now there’s a complete perspective available on what the audiences need, the company has the attention of the public and a support structure. You can control the chaos – but most importantly, you have to.
- Evading responsibilities. Although it may seem repetitive, it is the final lunge to the monster of cancellation. Consumers react positively to companies that are sincere and self-aware. The style will depend on the type of crisis. In the case of Nike, the Colin Kaepernick controversy required them to demonstrate their stance; in return, they found an increase in their value reaching the $ 26 billion.
- Showing no signs of redemption. As we suggested earlier, it is about rebuilding those burned bridges. Online users represent the purchasing power that drives your business. Therefore, if the company has incurred in some type of fault, it is only fair to make reparations and prove such a situation is will never arise again.
With that said, let’s talk about how to get to that long-awaited solution:
Take the crisis as a starting point. Something that can greatly benefit your entrepreneurship is to gain authority with allies within the industry. This means having consultants specialized in Public Relations will for sure, change level-up your chances.
And finally, be sure to create a report that explains and chronologically reviews all the phases that have passed during the Crisis Communication.
Since you count on opening a corrected media plan, it’s possible to make adjustments even further. Consider dedicating valuable content offering new alternatives to adversity situations within your field of action. In this way, your brand can even reach new audiences.
Has the storm passed yet?
You and the team will notice you have successfully overcome the crisis by the time your metrics exhibit the regulation of brand mentions indices, as they should gradually decrease.
In the case of sales, they will increase to a position at previous levels or, in the best case – if there is good management -, could exceed the earlier established figures.
All companies go through some type of media crisis, to a small or large extent, and determining the long-term impact of a crisis is almost impossible. Still, there is no better method than constant evaluation as well as continuous reinvention. With all this acquired knowledge, we are sure that you will have better resources to face them.
We also want to remind you that if you want to prevent your brand image from being damaged by media backlash, it is possible to do so while saving time and headaches.
At Media Coverage we are a company dedicated to managing the brand image, the relationship with the media, and the creation of valuable content. You can check out what packages we have available and contact us to schedule a meeting.
In the meantime, take a look at the rest of our entries, there is a long list of articles where we cover the most relevant topics of digital marketing in 2020.