How Companies Like Google Mend Self-Induced Crisis

In the burgeoning Silicon Valley, an average one bedroom costs $3,500 to rent. Even with an above-average tech salary, residential supply has not kept pace with the growing number of jobs. Affordable housing options seem few and far between, and homeownership is a fairytale. Google heard the pleas and grumbles of its employees, announcing a $1 billion initiative on Tuesday to help propel construction for new dwellings and communities.

Google’s success has contributed to the dominant wealth of Silicon Valley, and the corresponding rising real estate crisis. Other companies have also been caught in the crosshairs of natural, ethical and cultural disasters. Their response or silence can determine future success. So what are the key tactics for companies to emerge graciously from a fall from favor?

Band-aid your own wounds

The first step is owning up to your faults, and figuring out how to fix them. Do not clam up. Do not hire a third party to tell a different story or come up with an unrelated solution. A brand may temporarily bruise, but will ultimately come out on top when acknowledging a mistake and becoming better from it.

Oil and gas companies, such as Exxon or BP, have traditionally lived in a cloud of consistently negative sentiment. Seen as environmentally careless during major oil spills, it took many years to shake the memory of historically tragic events created by their actions. These companies now label themselves as “energy” companies. Not only do they continue their work in the oil and gas industries, but they have created entire groups of the business dedicated to clean and renewable energy, transforming past perspectives of these businesses.

Control the message

For years consumers saw Nike’s bad behavior regarding poor working conditions, human rights and gender inequality. These days Nike rules as an enlightened brand, naming activist and ex-National Football League quarterback Colin Kapernick as a brand spokesman. And at a time when national controversy swirled surrounding his beliefs. The company took a chance with a face that not all consumers may agree with, in order to say—we aren’t fooling around. This is what we believe in, and who we are. Something they may not have done years prior.

And it paid off. Nike sales continue to grow, with an increased interest since Nike determined who it wanted to represent, and what it wanted to be.

Paul Nagy, CCO at VMLY&R Australia and New Zealand told AdAge that the campaign “made a statement to the world. That one image, they’ll be teaching ten years from now, not just in marketing books, but in history books,” he said. “In my opinion, it’s the greatest Nike ad of all time.”

Actions speak louder than words

Americans eat about 3 billion pizzas a year. Chains, corner pizzerias, high-end bistros—everyone has a favorite. Papa Johns fell out of favor with pizza lovers in 2018 after a clip emerged with its founder and now ex-CEO, John Schnatter, delivering a racist slur on a conference call, amongst other unsavory statements.

Papa Johns made a complete 180 over the past year, ousting Schnatter from the board, and openly embracing the company’s diversity. The pizzeria launched an ad campaign, Voices, which celebrated the diversity of franchise owners and employees throughout the organization. It also signed on one of culture’s most recognizable stars, Shaquille O’Neal. Nine franchises will envelop Shaq’s signature style and flair. Not only is O’Neal an investor, but he’s been named a brand ambassador and new member of the board as well.

As Shaq told USA Today: "Everyone loves pizza and pizza loves everyone."