This post was most recently updated on July 16, 2020
What is a Reputation Crisis?
Chances are you’ve read a news story here or there about companies experiencing a brand crisis, like a poorly worded tweet sent by an employee or even a video uploaded to YouTube by employees of a restaurant that negatively impacted the restaurant’s reputation.
All of us also watch to see how customers will respond as news of the crisis takes minutes to spread across the internet, while also wondering how those companies will try to regain consumer trust.
While the whole thing is interesting for an outsider to watch unfold, what happens when it’s your company that is in trouble? Does your company have a crisis reputation management plan in place?
Why Your Company Needs a Crisis Reputation Management Plan
A company’s most valuable asset is its brand. In times of crisis the company’s top focus should be on minimizing brand reputation damage by acting quickly. Stakeholders at all levels of the company will suffer if the company does not work quickly to stop brand reputation damage. BP witnessed this first-hand when station owners sued the company over a decline in sales following the BP oil spill.
When crisis hits, it can derail a business for years, or worse, completely. Crisis communications within a business in combination with a crisis management plan ensure confidence knowing your business can handle questionable press.
Whether it be a safety issue within the business, or a marketing effort that missed the mark and offended a customer, a reputation crisis can take on many forms. The key elements of a reputation crisis involve an incident that negatively impacts your brands credibility, trustworthiness, and relevancy.
According to a crisis communications professional, a crisis can be defined as, “an event that occurs suddenly and most often unexpectedly. A crisis demands a quick response and, if mismanaged, can result in loss of profits, increased litigation, job loss, decreased employee morale, reputation damage, decreased competitive strength, increased government intervention, increased consumer activism and decreased trust in management.”
How Do You Fix a Brand Image?
If your brand needs a complete overhaul, there is most definitely a way to do so. Fixing your brand image comes down to several factors revolving around ownership and confidence in the online image of your brand.
First and foremost, own up to any wrong or miscommunication your brand might have conveyed to the public, or internally within the business. Doing so allows for a fresh start and confidence in your ownership of the brand as a whole.
Create a plan by creating a list of goals. Getting specific about what type of accomplishment you’d like to make as a brand lays the framework of how you’ll get there.
Don’t be afraid to get some ideas from other businesses and brands. You never want to copy someone, but getting ideas and inspiration can help you get creative.
Address negative reviews and complaints with confidence. Completely overhauling your brand usually comes with some negative remarks or comments. Understanding this is a natural part of brand expansion can help ease your response. Addressing negative reviews with care, consideration and professionalism can drastically help improve your brand.
Use your customer feedback to build a better experience. After all, the customer is always right. Do you research one whichever platforms you have available and use it to help build your new brand.
Utilizing social media to create a conversation space allows for a build-up to the release of your new brand identity. Keep customers engaged and informed at all times to retain loyal customers.
How Do You Save Your Brand in the Face of Crisis?
If companies and small businesses delay or avoid a professional response and care following a reputation crisis, it displays a lack of effective communication and can greatly decrease any lasting trust in your brand.
It is never a good idea for companies to let inexperienced interns manage their social media presence, and it is an even worse idea to let them manage a social media presence during a time of crisis.
Confused consumers will go to social media accounts the company maintains on Facebook and Twitter to check for updates or ask questions. The company should have employees with social media communication skills monitoring these channels so that all questions and concerns receive an official, personal response from the company itself.
Additionally, the CEO or another high-ranking organizational leader must make himself or herself available during the crisis. Consumers feel that the crisis is a priority for the business when they see an official statement on the news being delivered by the CEO. He or she is also a credible source that journalists and consumers will recognize during the crisis and beyond.
Control the Message
Major damage to a brand reputation can occur when a company does not make an effort to control the message. Consumers will be looking for information and updates during a crisis in real time, and when the company remains silent, other parties will step up and begin to take control of the message.
This can mean the creation of fake Twitter accounts (like @NBCFail during the Olympics) or simply the spread of misinformation. To control the message, use social media channels and traditional public relations methods to release regular updates. Even a tweet of “nothing new to report” every 30 minutes will put consumer minds at ease and prevent the spread of misinformation.
Seek out Help
Since most companies do not have a crisis reputation management plan already in place, they do not have employees trained in interacting with the press and responding to complaints on social media. Bringing in an online reputation management company is a great way to limit the scope of brand reputation damage.
Reputation911 has used its online reputation management experience to hit the ground running when clients experience a crisis, and we use tools like social media, press releases, and search engine optimized websites to re-shape the conversation about your business while suppressing negative stories and content online.
Reputation911 will ensure that your company’s brand reputation damage is minimized by working quickly, and we will also take steps to help rebuild your brand’s reputation. If you are experiencing a crisis, every second you wait to act will lead to more damage to your brand.
Reach out to us today by filling out the form on the right side of this page, or by calling 1-866-MY-REP-911 to learn more about Reputation911’s crisis reputation management solutions.