Turn on the news these days and you will be inundated with PR crises. And while a crisis can be detrimental to a brand, there are also a number of companies who have used a crisis to come out stronger in the long run. Think Tylenol, Maple Leaf Foods, Lululemon. The common thread among these companies is that they used a crisis situation to create a long-term opportunity.
Looking at the bright side during a crisis situation may be inconceivable for many business leaders, but below are some key ways to not only move through a crisis but ideally, create a stronger business for the future.
- Reconnect with customers – A crisis is a great way to reconnect with customers you may not have been actively engaged with. Many companies tend to be complacent in terms of customer relations until a crisis occurs. Emailing with updates and other forms of ongoing communications helps to show the value a company puts on customers. It is also important to respond to tweets, emails, posts on an individual basis to demonstrate your commitment to the customer. And once the crisis subsides, why stop the communication? Now that the brand has reopened the doors for engagement, it is a great opportunity to keep that interaction going, keeping customers informed and loyal to your brand.
- Think Differently – while this was a common saying of former Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, these are strong words to live by as a business leader and communicator. Often when a crisis occurs it can be due to a process gap that has impacted the health or safety of the brand’s stakeholders – using this unfortunate incident as a way to relook at and rethink the way things have been done, the way employees have been trained, or the way the brand speaks to the public can present a great opportunity for business leaders to improve their brand both internally and externally.
- Build your reputation and credibility – a crisis is an opportunity for a company to build on its reputation and credibility. In many cases, customers are keen to understand that “sh*t happens” and can happen to anyone. What they aren’t keen to understand is when a company tries to hide the issue. By properly handling the situation through communication and most importantly, transparency, it presents the opportunity for the brand to retain trust with stakeholders and even leverage them as advocates for the company.
At the time of the crisis, it can seem like the sky is falling and there is no end in sight. However, the brands that come out shining are the ones who focus not only on the present issue, but also on the future.
Lisa Libin is Vice President at Brookline Public Relations. Lisa loves a good crisis (as long as it’s not a personal one!) and has vast experience in issues management and brand reputation issues, working with local and global communications teams to handle ongoing and current industry issues.