There is no doubt that we live in the era of the PR crisis. More often than not, we can log onto any social media platform and see a digital war of the words between brands and consumers alike. So much so, that when it goes wrong, it can be catastrophic. So how can we shut down these situations peacefully – or avoid them altogether?
More than ever, consumers want to shop from brands that have a clearly stated and communicated set of values. Because we are now not afraid to “call out”, fashion and beauty brands are now the most at risk of facing any kind of public relations crisis. Brands now need to pre-empt a crisis before it happens, examining how they function as a company, alongside the methods they use to create their imagery and products. The key lies in being able to respond quickly and effectively when potential mistakes happen.
The first step in forward-thinking progress is to keep on top of monitoring what’s being said about your brand. This could be achieved through software services such as Signal and Trendkite, enabling day-to-day monitoring becoming part of the overall branding process. It’s equally as important to stop the spreading of any inaccurate information, and identifying any “outrage messengers” as quickly as possible. Empowering the right people to do this can be of great benefit. Using the right leaders from the right parts of the company (whether they’re from IT, legal or financial depending on the type of response needed) can ensure things are dealt with both effectively and thoroughly. Keeping the internal communication flowing can ensure the response is correctly distributed to any stores or external areas if the situation calls for it.
The next step is to perfect the apology itself. There is no set blueprint for this, but must be completely authentic and far from defensive. This should also reflect the tone that the brand already operates on – if your strategy is to be your consumer’s friend, a corporate sounding apology won’t do you any favours. The same can be said for overreacting, as not every crisis actually warrants a kind of public statement. Other key elements include vetting potentially problematic material (nipping ‘risky’ creative output in the bud before it may be taken the wrong way) as well as identifying when your brand is vulnerable - what do people already assume about you, and what can be misconstrued? No two crises are ever alike, and no plan can be fully set or stuck to. Continuing to learn from yourself, as well as your competitors, makes sure to avoid the need for ‘call-out culture’ to end up at your door altogether.
Image source: © Gajus / Shutterstock