Corporations, brands and businesses are all suffering from the same thing: a public relations crisis. Today, more and more consumers are garnering negative feelings towards all things in private sector, especially the major corporations, whether it’s due to outsourcing, environmental impacts or paying their staff members low wages.
Private enterprises also experience other types of scandals that make front-page headlines and shareholders shake in their boots because of an executive’s abusive actions, the president’s off-handed remarks or the overall business practice could send shares tumbling almost instantly.
The way a brand handles a scandal or a crisis is the best way to determine the company’s feasibility, leadership and concern. If it can easily weather the storm or work to remedy the issue then consumers can sympathize with the business and understand that mistakes do in fact occur to everyone and everything all over the world.
Here are the top 10 tips to stop a scandal from destroying your brand and corporate image:
Once a media outlet breaks a news story or a whistleblower comes out and makes claims then it’s imperative for a corporation to immediately perform an investigation to determine the truth of the article and allegations. The investigation has to touch upon all departments, executives and workforce and then come to a conclusion that won’t hurt the brand.
As soon as an investigation is over or a news outlet finds out a certain corporate practice, it is important for the brand to be honest and not present any denials that can make the public scoff or even chuckle. Remember the old adage: honesty is the best policy, even if there are a board of directors and major shareholders.
The reaction that a brand has really depends on the situation. There are generally three reactions to take: silence, providing the facts and moving forward or seeking a retraction from the source and ask for an apology (if the story is entirely untrue).
4. Image Adjustment
If a scandal has truly diminished the brand’s image then a reboot may be necessary. Adjusting the company’s image is a sign that the scandal or crisis was taken seriously, and it generates positive media attention and reinstitutes confidence from the consumer base. This is a sound and prudent long-term move.
5. Changing Culture
At times, the corporate culture can be a toxic environment: the management is disengaged from the labor force, the employees have no idea what’s going on and the executives are keeping everyone in the dark. In other words, the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. Changing the company’s internal and external culture can boost the power of the brand and place the scandal in the history books and forgotten.
6. Social Media
Most of the major brands maintain a presence on social media. When a scandal breaks, the corporation must be active on social media and continue to engage with the audience, provide updates and be unafraid to answer the tough questions (unless something is before the courts). Social network is a huge phenomenon, and this is a great tool to fight a corporate arsenal.
7. Forget the Yes Men
Let’s be honest: every company has at least one yes man. This isn’t a positive element for a brand because when someone is afraid to be honest or refrains from providing a genuine solution that is also tough it can’t produce a resolution or a conclusion to said corporate scandal. Yes men are just as toxic to the workplace as gossipers and those who don’t want to do any work. Before it’s too late, drop the yes men and either replace them or transfer them over to another department.
Although a major corporation and brand may be public, sometimes they can also be surreptitious and clandestine. When a crisis engulfs a corporation, one crucial measure to take is to be transparent, which means open investigations, constant updates through the media and giving customers news on what is taking place to resolve the scandal.
Akin to being transparent, regular communication, such as press releases and issued statements, are great measures to incorporate in containing the scandal. Rather than keeping everyone in the dark and only sending out infrequent updates, the brand should be happy to communicate its findings, solutions and news. It appears then that the firm has nothing to conceal.
During and after the scandal that has inflicted a serious wound to the corporate brand, the company must embrace a positive attitude. Bitterness, anger and perhaps even threats should be tossed out the window in favor of a positive, upbeat and friendly attitude. This suggests that the company has faith that it can move forward from this, learn from its mistakes and become even better than what it was prior to the outbreak.
From automobile recalls to factory suicides, from nefarious tweets to questionable policy decisions, every brand has experienced some sort of scandal that has hurt share prices, sales and the image. If a company knows how to come back from a scandal then it can overcome anything, including lackluster sales and plummeting stocks.