Brandchat Group Discusses: How Brands Can Avoid Or Deal with #PRNightmares

Created by: Darine Odigé

Social Media has become a force to recon with it, when it comes to generating an audience or customers for our businesses. However, like anything powerful it also has the power to destroy your reputation as a brand. Although it may take years to generate the perfect following, and to have the attention of your target audience, it may only take one day to undo all of those efforts. I recently participated in a twitter chat group #Brandchat where we discussed some of the worst #PRNightmares that any company has ever experience. Some of the other questions we discussed included:

  • Q1: List the brands that have had the biggest PR Nightmares of all time (not just 2017)?
  • Q2: Some say all PR is good PR. Your thoughts?
  • Q3: What’s the 1st 3-steps you recommend for a brand to take ownership of a mistake/issue?
  • Q4: What best practices have you seen brands successfully done to rebuild their brand?
  • Q5: What’s your advice on how brands can prevent/avoid PR nightmares?
  • Q6: How can a brand minimize the clash between legal/compliance & PR especially during a crisis?

Although most of us had our own answers, when it came to how can brands avoid #PRNightmares most of us agreed. One of the most important steps for businesses to take before introducing a product or interacting with their customers is to do their homework. Doing their homework involves conducting researches, and depending on their agenda, they can choose to do a variety of the different types of researches. It can be a(n);

  • Basic Research
  • Applied Research
  • Problem oriented research
  • Problem solving
  • Quantitative Research
  • Qualitative Research

Besides the input of their research teams, brands should also hold focus groups to involve real customers and get an idea of how they will receive their new product. For example, in the group I talked about Abercrombie & Fitch, who released a line of t-shirts depicting caricatures of Asian stereotypes, in April of 2002. Overall, I would advise any businesses not to exploit stereotypes, especially when it negatively undermines people or a certain race. But this is an example where, that company should have done their homework and reach out to people of Asian decent to see how they would react to their product. Even worse, a month later, the company introduced racy thong underwear in children’s’ sizes, aimed at girls aged 10 to 14. As expected, people were outrage on both counts. Abercrombie & Fitch could have easily ask a group of parents how do they feel about this product and whether or not they would allow their children to wear them.

Created By: Darine Odigé

Another mistake that companies typically make is not having a plan of action for when they are caught in a #PRNightmare. In this case, Abercrombie & Fitch did not. When people were outraged because of the racist t-shirt their response was “We personally thought Asians would love this T-shirt.” and in the inappropriate under garment case they responded, “The underwear for young girls was created with the intent to be lighthearted and cute.” In both case people were not happy with the products, and as a company these statements only add fuel to the fire, this is an example of poor management. As The Gary J. Nix puts it, “Have this perspective: People know humans run brands. The failure is not in the mistake but in the execution of the apology #brandchat.” There are many ways to avoid those situations and stay on the good side of your customers, check out #Brandchat to read more! Also feel free to participate in their chat group on Wednesdays 11:00am EST.