Brands, Your Online PR Crisis Is Your Fault

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Aarzu Khan
A full-time data scientists and a part-time industry analyst; still learning power of effective presentation and firm believer of the thought "Numbers are always magical". Love to be in the network of people who 'know' how to respect their time and keep others engaged in meaningful activities.

These days PR Crisis is one of the biggest challenges faced by brands, either be it McDonald’s, KFC, Apple or any other. While small brands find itself in a bit of tricky situation, bigger brands sometimes also do big mistakes at the time of handling online PR crisis. Timothy Combs has rightly defined crisis as “the perception of an unpredictable event that threatens important expectancies of the stakeholders and can seriously impact an organization’s performance and generate negative outcomes”. Brands sometimes are unable to classify situation which has occurred as incident or crisis. But wait; before we delve deep into it, let’s understand what is classified as crisis here. A crisis is an unwelcome event which affects company’s reputation in a very bad way. Nowadays whenever crisis on social media has turned into a big disaster it is the brand only which is the culprit to be blamed.

Crisis management is a set of procedures which should be prepared prior assuming that PR crisis can happen anytime and it will, of course, reduce the damage caused to the company’s reputation. But these days the biggest mistake brands are doing is the lack of communication. In the era of the Internet and Social Media, PR crisis management has become an integral part of their daily operations fo brands. With more than 3 billion internet users available online, a small situation can go viral like wildfire and can bring colossal damage to a brand.

Who can forget the case of Dominos viral video case: The video in which the Domino’s worker was following bad practices in the kitchen went viral. This obviously affected Domino’s reputation but the thing which badly affected its esteem is the kind of response which they have shown to the crisis. The CEO of Dominos has uploaded a video on youtube asking for an apology from the side of the worker. The company, however, completely misjudged the severity of the crisis as the video was uploaded 2 days later and by then the company attracted enough of bad mouths. This kind of late response surely results in the decrepit reputation of a brand. Immediately replying to any crisis and having a proper response is an appropriate solution to it.

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Brands always do some common mistakes while handling PR crisis like responding with such extended time lag, getting engaged in a heated argument, improper communication and so on. The best way to deal with such situations is to respond with a cool head as early as you can. The late you reply more repercussions you have to face. The first one hour of the crisis is the golden time when you can actually save you reputation. Brands, unfortunately, always ignore or be silent at that time, and that’s why the crisis soon turn out to be a big disaster.

Secondly, if it is your mistake don’t shy to accept it on social media. People do accept that mistakes are done by human beings only, so whenever if you think the mistake is at you part accept it and if possible apology at a right time otherwise the event can soon turn out to be a black moment for you. Also, brands usually can not handle criticism and always turn out in a furious manner and in this, they  try to delete comments from social media so that their esteem can be maintained but that’s not the case. This is the biggest mistake that everyone does, one should never delete non-favouring comments or criticisms posted by others on the digital platforms.

The brands own trust in people’s hearts so whenever crisis happen the very first thing that gets hit is the same trust which gets affected badly. But the worst thing which brands do is that they are unable to handle the situation in an appropriate way. Crisis can often result in a drop in sales, loss of customers, share price fall and obviously damage of reputation. Sponsors even cancel the sponsorship and the community members also get declined. The interesting case of Apple, the fight between the US presidential candidate Donald Trump and iPhone maker is another classic case study on PR crisis. The Trump wants to arm twist Apple by limiting the usage of iPhones as the device allegedly hampers a person’s identity of an individual because of Apple’s hi-tech security algorithm. But this time, Apple has taken action at the right time by organizing a meeting with the public to let them know how serious the company is about the security of their personal information.

The best action to these crises by any brand should be by making use of social media. By 2018, 2.44 billion people will reportedly be using social media. Immediately when this kind of situation arises, a company should use social media channels to express what their stance is. KFC has adapted right strategy in dealing with the situation when a girl having some injuries on the eye was kicked out of one of its outlets. When the event got viral KFC’s PR professionals made a page for the girl on Facebook, apologized her and also gave $30,000 for her treatment. This timely action against such crisis by KFC not only overshadowed the criticism which they faced but also brought immense respect for the brand as well.

So now whenever crisis has occurred deal with the situations patiently and take the right action at appropriate time. Don’t  let golden time fly away, make the best use of that time to convert crisis into a publicity action rather than a disaster.

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