Public relations disasters are many companies’ worst nightmares.
Whether it’s a common mistake that leads to a temporary bad reputation or a bigger problem that affects the future of your business, negative PR can be hard to recover from.
PR problems not only taints your brand name and personality, but can also eliminate customer loyalty and significantly decrease your profits and financial backing. And according to the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Report, over half of businesses are forced to stop operations for these exact reason. So what can you do to best address a PR disaster? Stay prepared by knowing all the best possible solutions:
Make a Joke Out of It
Beware that this answer is only appropriate if the reason for your company’s backlash is lighthearted and doesn’t have a serious affect on your customers. So make sure you thoroughly evaluate the problem before you decide to follow the path of making a joke out of the situation to draw consumers back in. If your PR disaster isn’t that serious, then this is actually probably the way to address, as it makes it seem like less of a big deal.
For example, when Reese’s released its Christmas tree chocolate in 2015, it received huge backlash as the shape of the chocolates looked like giant blobs rather than festive trees. Instead of addressing the issue as a serious event, Reese’s decided to create a campaign surrounding the idea of ‘tree shaming’ and #AllTreesAreBeautiful, which ended up gaining traction on social media and turned the disaster into a funny concept for fans to engage with.
Admit Quickly And Redeem
When it comes to big PR disasters such as the company lying, breaching policies and putting customers at risk, then timely admittance is vital to the reputation of your brand.
Back in 1994, Texaco was sued by former employees on the grounds of racial discrimination, and the allegations were confirmed after the release of recordings that proved discriminatory behavior. However, Texaco was able to bounce back in large because of its quick and honest approach — the CEO made a public apology, executives traveled to every location to apologize to employees, and the company hired an African-American owned advertising agency to formulate its next ad campaign. By taking this approach, companies have the opportunity to still show consumers that they have good intentions and genuinely care about their relationship with their audience, hopefully turning a negative situation into positive growth.
Educate Your Audience
In the case that your PR disaster is a result of false allegations and untrue statements, then educating your audience is vital to maintaining your reputation. When strategizing your message, ensure that the education clearly addresses the problem communicated in the disaster, and is easily accessible to your whole consumer base.
After being accused of being a pyramid scheme, Amway cleverly put together an engaging blog post that not only explicitly addressed the statement, but also provided a lot of background information about the company and how it works. By including employees’ testimonials and conducting ample research, the company was able to distribute this information online and successfully communicate the truth behind their company structure.
PR disasters are always trouble for any brand that runs into them. However, if proper preparation is done and the issue is addressed appropriately then it is definitely possible to turn a negative PR issue into a positive statement about your company.