Em Bartels is the founder And Executive director of Excell Consulting GH, Excell Branding GH, a Personal Branding Expert and Executive coach.
Given the recent turbulence in Ghana’s financial Sector with attendant problems of mass withdrawals, hacked databases, disgraced company spokesmen and directors, exploding customer complaints online and in the media, there’s no end to the range of business scandals that surface every day.
Each such crisis has the potential to strike at the heart of an established brand, causing fleeting damage (in best-case scenarios) or (in worst-case scenarios) irreparable destruction of customer trust.
Scandals and reputation crisis have always occurred in the marketplace. The difference today is the sheer speed with which a minor issue can escalate via social media or other digital platforms to become an albatross around the necks of Key managers and executives.
Such upheavals leave those in charge of a company’s public image staggering from one attack to the next. Your brand must be rebuilt in those crucial days after the crisis occurs.
Here are four key PR actions to employ in the wake of a crisis:
1. Have a plan
If you develop a strategy for post-scandal brand repair ahead of time, it’s much easier to execute that plan with calmness and confidence. That’s precisely the image your organization should project.
The plan should include round-the-clock monitoring of all online platforms where your business might be mentioned, and tactics for rapid response to any critical or negative postings.
2. Apologise sincerely
After a crisis has occurred and it’s determined that your organization is at least partly to blame, do not offer the kind of insincere and evasive apologies perfected by discredited politicians.
Your CEO or another credible spokesman must be able to say, “We’re truly sorry,” in a way that both members of the news media and consumers find acceptable.
A sincere apology and promise not to repeat the mistake can generate significant public goodwill.
3. Raise positive stories in search engine rankings
What happens after a crisis occurs? Anyone searching Google for information about that organization will encounter negative stories first. The best counter-strategy is to do everything possible to raise positive stories in your search-engine results page. Here are a few ideas:
·Revise your company page on Wikipedia to emphasize notable achievements and other upbeat facts.
·Add new details to your company’s social media profile on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google Plus, SlideShare, Pinterest, and other platforms.
·Create blog post and content highlighting positive news about the company and industry.
·Encourage loyal customers to feature use of your product through YouTube videos
·Your Facebook and Twitter accounts should churn out positive information about your work in the community as well as highlight recent stories of corporate social responsibility of the company.
·Promote high-profile events in support of community cause and invite the media to cover in a
“If you already have a problem, the good news is that it’s never too late to regain control of your reputation,” writes American Internet-marketing expert Chuck Price. The best way to achieve this goal, Price says, is by “displacing negative content and promoting positive news.”
4. Devote time and resources to repairing employee trust
After a crisis, brand managers are understandably focused on regaining the trust of customers. However, it’s important not to overlook an equally important Stakeholder—a company’s workforce or employees.
News that makes an organization look bad affects employees, too. That can lead to low morale, decreased productivity and a challenge to recruit and especially retain talented employees in the future.
Reach out to your team the following ways:
·Acknowledge that the employer/employee bond has been violated.
·Encourage CEO visibility in the workplace and answer employees’ questions as thoroughly as possible.
·Pledge to be completely transparent in all post-crisis internal communications.
·Offer guidance to employees on how they should respond if contacted by the media.
·Encourage employees to write positively about the company or brand on social media and other digital platforms
Note that every brand crisis is an opportunity to repair brand and take the brand to its next phase of uniqueness. Taking these actions will help repair the broken trust and even revive employees’ willingness to stand behind their organization’s brand-repair efforts.
Crisis management truly is a balancing act between repairing your brand and employee relations. But if you’re proactive from the get-go, you might just find a silver lining in the crisis.
CEOs and business owners who think crises only happen to other organizations or that negative publicity only affects large-scale companies allow a dangerous misconception to threaten their businesses.
It’s better to assume that a crisis of some kind will happen, and start thinking and planning now about how to repair your brand in the immediate aftermath.
About Em Bartels
Em Bartels is the founder and Executive Director of Excell Consulting GH, Excell Branding GH, a Personal Branding Expert and Executive Coach and Trainer with a track record of building incredible personal brands that help executives to Stand Out, become visible and attract a passionate tribe.
An ardent public speaker and elocution expert, Ms. Bartels supports executives and professionals in the art of oral delivery and diction.
With a PR and Marketing Career spanning over two decades, she is passionate about seeing individuals, executives and Businesses in Ghana and Africa placed on what she terms “The Global Recognition Map”.
She is also the founder of GPA Awards International, a Professional Development Organisation that promotes Creativity, Innovation and Excellence.