The secret to brand crisis management is no different from the secret to successful brand-building: Be Authentic. Here are some strategies for managing negative publicity:
• Don’t be an ostrich. Don’t hide. Be visible and available for comment. Be proactive. Act quickly and decisively.
• Express empathy sincerely and offer help immediately. Never lose sight of the fact that you’re communicating with other humans, who may be injured, confused, anxious or angry. Tell people how to get help and demonstrate your commitment to resolving the problem quickly and equitably. Update information frequently. Information reduces anxiety.
• Tell the Truth. Whatever you do, don’t lie. If your company made a mistake, admit it up front. Lies and misinformation will only backfire. Remember, you are asking an untrusting public to trust you again.
• Provide an ethical and socially responsible solution. People will remember how you handled the incident, even those who are not personally impacted by it.
• Use the 24/7 news machine to your advantage. In the old economy, the first twenty-four hours was the critical response window. In the new economy, you are lucky if you have an hour. Remember that news outlets must fill the airwaves and column inches with something. Help them. Use this opportunity to control the message.
• Move out of Crisis Mode quickly. Resolve the crisis quickly and communicate how you resolved it. The longer you are perceived as being “in crisis,” the more negative the media coverage becomes, the lower you drop in public opinion, and the deeper the damage to your brand’s equity. Think long-term when you make decisions.