It’s generally accepted that brands are highly vulnerable to crises. We’ve all heard the maxim, “It’s not a question of if your brand will experience a crisis, but when.” The good news is that since communicators work across the enterprise, they are well placed to know where a crisis might erupt. But how about when it doesn’t take an experienced communicator to know that a brand might be vulnerable? We look at two incidents where issues have arisen and brands might be tempted to act.
A ransomware attack ravaged the globe May 12 in the form of WannaCry, a program that spread itself through a Windows networking protocol. There was a patch, but that was no help to the countless users who had not updated and installed it. Much of the blame for this has fallen on Microsoft.
You don’t have to look far to find examples of people and organizations screwing up. So as tempting as it may be to pile onto Uber’s woes or the latest airline mess, Katie Paine uses this edition of Image Patrol to look at the follow-up to crises. What you do is very important, but so is how you respond, ie, the way people and brands say they’re sorry – or don’t.
With the swirl of information inundating consumers sometimes important notices get lost. This can be a dilemma for communicators who often are charged with alerting the public about a product recall, an event that can do serious damage to a brand’s reputation. An expert in such matters, Michael Good provides brand communicators with tips for combatting product recall fatigue.
“Luxury music festival” or “$100 million lawsuit”? All it took was one weekend of social media outrage for the Fyre Festival, a music festival scheduled to start April 27 in the Bahamas, to see its reputation shift from the former to the latter. Concertgoers who had paid up to $12,000 per ticket arrived at a bare-bones campsite in disarray, learned that musical acts had pulled out of the festival and had a difficult time leaving the island location.
What if we could change the course of the next crisis before it got out of hand? Speaking with people in and out of government, I came to believe that we were missing our moment of maximum impact. If we pre-constructed some of what I began calling counter-crisis capabilities (CCC), they could be ready when problems started to percolate. We might reduce the frenzy factor, increase our focus, and enhance performance, argues Brett Bruen, a former White House official.
Most of us wish we could apologize to people in our past for one thing or another. As time passes, though, an apology can become a form of stalking or a self-centered quest for redemption. That person whose feelings you hurt badly when you were 18? She doesn’t want to hear from you now. If only you could board a magical aircraft, zoom back in time and make things right. Speaking of aircraft, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz sent an email on April 27 to customers apologizing for breaking the bonds of trust “when a passenger was forcibly removed” from one of its planes.
Two weeks after United’s reputation, and stock price, took a hit after airline security forcibly removed Dr. David Dao from a flight, it was American’s turn to deal with a passenger crisis. On April 21, a young mother was reduced to tears during an argument with attendants. The incident—which included a fellow passenger nearly getting into a physical altercation with an attendant—was captured on video and quickly went viral. But unlike United’s response, American quickly apologized, suspended the attendant and didn’t blame the victim.
As we know, communications has changed greatly with the rise of social media. It’s the same with crisis management, argues Daniela Peting of Motorola Solutions. Several maxims for crisis management from the pre-digital days may not work as well in the digital era. In fact, they could do more damage than good. Peting explains how listening via social media can benefit your crisis management experience.
Communicators know one word that can shake up an organization is crisis. But have you pondered how you would deal with such a situation if you were to ever face it? Survey after survey indicate most firms lack a solid crisis plan and fewer practice crisis scenarios regularly. In this digitized world, a well-worded press release is no longer enough to pacify your audience. Here are a few tips to help you use content to control a crisis.