How to recover your brand after a crisis?
You can’t predict a crisis. But you can very well prepare for one.
I’ve heard more than my fair share of real-life ‘nightmare’ experiences from influencers and brands. Many of them have been really catastrophic, and more often, they’ve lost a decent amount of business, audience, and a lot of things, due to these mishaps.
No matter how hard you try to do everything so perfect, something might go south at any second. Especially in the virtual world. Servers crash (a lot), data gets leaked, employees / contractors make mistakes [enter some crisis], and ultimately, your brand will have to bear the burden.
Or does it?
Not if you know how to manage it.
The most important thing to understand is that, for a brand, simply fixing what went wrong may not be enough.
To recover from a potential PR crisis, your brand needs to assume responsibility, and respond in a fast, thoughtful, and structured way, so that you may win back your audience’s trust.
For example, famous dating coach Jason Capital mentioned in his book — Higher Status, about 2 instances where his team faced a server failure and had an account ban from a service provider, (both during a massive project was going on) and how he responded to 2 instances in 2 different ways.
The first time, they did nothing to let their audience know about the crisis. They were just stupefied, and flabbergasted. Partly, because it was their first encounter of something like this. They lost a lot of audience and clients due to that, and it took them weeks to bounce back from the aftermath.
But the second time, Jason and his team handled the situation the right way. The intensity of the crisis was the same, but he and the team worked their way through the pressure, and eventually, solved the problem.
What was his secret?
Apart from having a levelled head, his team published social media posts, stating the issue, and asking their audience to help out by sending emails to the service provider to lift the ban. To everyone’s delight, they succeeded, and Jason got the account back and running.
See? They were able to turn a crisis, and used it to solidify their brand loyalty, while keeping their market share.
The key here is not keeping your audience in the dark about the issue. Be honest, and tell them what happened, and most importantly, just accept the responsibility instead of just blaming and complaining. There’s nothing attractive about playing the victim. Don’t spread negativity. Don’t associate it with your brand. Ever.
It’s normal (and expected) to have some buzz about what happened to circulate on social media and forums. After all, that’s how it is now, and people share everything. Especially bad experiences. So, have some of your team members crawling around on the internet, looking for any mentions of your brand and what happened. Or, you can use Google alerts to automate this task for you. If somebody tweeted about it, go there and talk about what happened, what went wrong, and that you’re genuinely sorry for the bad experience your audience had to go through. Humility and honesty, are the keys here. But like I said, don’t spread negativity, don’t bad-mouth, and certainly don’t play the victim.
Sometimes, to reestablish your brand authority, you might have to get some of your most loyal clients and audiences to create some positive buzz about your brand, in order to counter the negativity flowing around. The most effective way to do this is to personally contact them and ask them to do you a favor. They’ll be happy to do this for you.
Again, the key to all this is by actually engaging with your audience constantly, and consistently. Crisis situation or not.
On the other hand, it’s really important to make sure that a potential (metaphorical) tsunami, won’t interrupt your brand consistency, or your ongoing / future projects. Prevention is always better than cure, right?
Have backup plans. Don’t just ‘do’ for the sake of doing it, and pray for everything to be fine. Identify the vulnerabilities of the brand, and take steps to make sure if anything ever happened, you’d be able to smoothly handle it. Especially, when something important, or significant is going on within your brand — like a product launch, or a live event, etc.
Pay extra attention when it comes to outside contractors and service providers. People make mistakes, servers crash (like I said, A LOT!), and things happen. Knowing where else to go when something is not working will save you a lot of time, which means that you’d be able to prevent your audience from wondering ‘what the heck happened?’.
No matter how small, insignificant, or impossible a scenario might be. A small hole can (and WILL!) sink a ship.
You can’t predict a crisis. But you can very well prepare for one. Regardless of that, if the situation caused your audience and/or clients some (or more than some) discomfort and frustration, how you handle the whole scenario will save or break your brand.