Brands come to PR and comms professionals to help with any number of issues they don't have the expertise or bandwidth to tackle on their own. We're covering several of them- we started with ustomer complaints, and now we're tackling a related subject: Crisis communications.
As soon as a crisis hits, you need to let your customers know that you're on top of it. Email is great, and use it to point customers to a non-static update where they can also share their issues and frustrations, like a blog. Bonus? This is much easier for you to keep track of than a million social media comments. (Brands will still need to monitor those too, however, and respond as appropriate.)
Also: Angry email replies are better than angry reviews.
The gold standard for this is still how Buffer handled a data breach back in 2013:
The reactions: With comments like, “You folks are awesome in every way, including when the chips are down”, “Proof positive that full transparency and openness is the only way to go when situations like this occur”, and, “I upgraded to the awesome plan because of how well Buffer handled this situation”, it’s safe to say Buffer’s customers were impressed with their handling of the situation. The resolution: Buffer remains a leader in social media scheduling and tracking. A number of their customers upgraded their accounts as a direct result of Buffer’s exceptional handling of the situation. To this day, their crisis response system is still considered the gold standard
Timing around crisis comms can be tricky: You want to advise any brand you're working with to be upfront about what is happening, but not to announce anything before they have all of the facts. In that case it's best to make a simple statement: We're aware of the situation, we're working quickly to resolve it and we will keep you updated as we learn more.
Nobody wants to be in charge when a crisis communication situation hits, but with the right plan in place- especially when it comes to monitoring and tracking the crisis around the brand as thoroughly as possible- it can be a valuable learning experience.
Some metrics to consider tracking:
- How many customers upgraded their accounts because of this?
- How many new customers signed up after this?
- Did SoV increase vs. competitors?
- What Earned Media came out of this crisis?
Ideally you'll work with a brand to craft a comprehensive crisis communications plan before anything happens— but sometimes a brand will come to you in the midst of a crisis and you'll have to be ready to jump right in.