We don’t live in a perfect world, and companies make mistakes as often as individuals, only they lose a lot in brand value and customers. There are many examples of top companies that have made serious blunders because of which they lost their brand reputation. Remember how PETA tried to begin a revolution that no one asked for?
The tweet that accompanied the image above was “Words matter, and as our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves along with it. Here’s how to remove speciesism from your daily conversations.”
Twitterati had a field day that day as comments started to show up. One user said, “Birds probably shouldn’t eat scones either!”. Another chimed in: “So you’re saying that there’s more than one way to skin a cat?”
It takes a lot of money and time to build brand value. However, it can all go to waste due to small mistakes which may lead to a huge crisis. The following are some of the ways brands can prevent small issues from snowballing into massive disasters:
1. Listen to What Others are Saying
You need to listen to the talks on the Internet, especially social media at all times. There are actually dedicated social listening tools like Mention, Agorapulse, TweetDeck, etc. that you can use to find what others are saying about a particular brand or product.
When a PR disaster has taken place, you need to check how your fans and customers are responding online. By keeping your ear to the ground, you can sense a potential disaster in advance and take appropriate measures before the damage has occurred.
2. Be Honest
It’s a bad idea to try to cover up the mess that you have created either intentionally or unintentionally. Lying to your customers will only force them to hate you more. Instead, you should be transparent and admit that you made a mistake. Your fans might remain indifferent to your apology but that’s the best option still.
3. Don’t Lose Your Cool
In this digital world, brands don’t just have one communication channel. A company would have someone responding to emails, another person managing social media, and another print media, etc. So, it’s not easy to maintain a single well-thought-out stance across every channel. In fact, brands have made serious mistakes when someone from their side stirred controversies. A good example is EA.
When EA introduced women in its Battlefield V game which belongs to a series loved for its historical accuracy, then the fans were openly irate. The likes-to-dislikes ratio on the official trailer on YouTube was a clear indication about what the fans demanded- a game that doesn’t try to distort history just to make a statement about “women empowerment”.
However, much to everyone’s surprise, EA chief creative officer Patrick Soderlund added fuel to the fire by saying that the company would stand for the cause, and those who don’t understand it can either accept the same or don’t buy the game at all. Already miffed, the fans picked the latter.
EA’s example is perfect to understand why it’s not cool to lose your cool. When brands don’t take responsibility for their statements and act irrationally, then all methods of crisis management and brand protection simply fail.
4. Appoint Experienced Community Managers
Don’t just hire interns for managing your brand profile on social media communities. After all, it is about your brand reputation, and you can’t take any chances. So, look for professionals who know how to handle the nitty-gritty of digital communication and crisis management.
A community manager should hold an important position in your company. They know your organization in and out and understand the various things that can improve your brand reputation in the market. It’s better if they already have a few years of experience in the industry.
5. Remember You Can’t Make Everyone Happy
You may give your 100% to fixing the things you did wrong, but even then, there will be many people who won’t understand or let it go. These are the people who like to stick to their opinions no matter what happens. So, it’s important that you don’t focus on them and just do whatever you can to make your overall fanbase happy. That’s the only thing you can do, and you should only focus on that.
6. Set up a Crisis Management Team
If you are a big company and your reputation in the industry matters to you, then you should consider creating a dedicated crisis management team that can avert or otherwise contain any kind of crisis that poses challenges to your company. It can keep tabs on your social media activities and jump into action if a potential PR disaster is identified.
Brand reputation should be a priority for every serious business today. In that endeavor, the things that are discussed above can go a long way. However, if the problem is more serious, then of course, you can take help from online reputation management services.