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How to Recover From a Brand Crisis

Crises happen to every brand, no matter how big or small they are. Verticals don’t matter; a B2B brand is just as likely as a B2C or nonprofit to face a crisis at some point. When one happens to your brand, will you recover?

You can, but it’ll require preparation and planning. Establish a crisis communication plan now rather than later. According to Burston-Marstellar, the brands that recoup and recover the fastest are the ones with well-documented policies.

Crisis management involves pre-crisis, mid-crisis and post-crisis phases. Each one is important, but the post-crisis is the one of concern at the moment. It dictates recovery time and actions.

1. Follow words with actions.

Issuing a public statement is an important first step, but it needs to be followed by action. Actions speak louder than words. They’re more memorable, too.

If you want your brand to be remembered positively, take action. Do something that benefits the community. If possible, the action should relate to the crisis that has taken place.

Next, share the story. Philanthropy done quietly is a great thing, but publicity is required here. Don’t shy away from the proverbial microphone when doing a good deed. A public crisis demands a public apology and public action.

Want even more crisis communication advice? Get our free tip sheet now!

2. Review the metrics.

PR is a data-driven business. Metrics should be used at all times to determine and manage campaigns.

Data is just as important in and after a time of crisis. Let the numbers, not gut feelings, tell the story. What messaging worked? What didn’t? How has the crisis quantifiably impacted the brand? How is your work positively or negatively affecting that number?

3. Review the response plan.

Review Crisis Communication Plan

Just as metrics drive PR initiatives, so, too, should they drive the response plan. Justin Saia, Manager of Corporate Communications at Nissan North America, says, “A crisis communications plan is only beneficial when it is treated as a fluid document that is actively maintained, frequently reviewed, and rehearsed. […] Continuous benchmarking is an essential tool to stay on top of industry best practices and new strategies.”

4. Share the response plan.

Once the plan has been updated, share it. The revised plan does no good if left to settle in the server somewhere. Make it available to key personnel.

Also print out a hard copy for those people. Technology crises like an unresponsive website during an online giving day are not out of the question. When that happens, your first responders may not be able to access a shared file on the Intranet or other shared service. So, print a handout.

5. Share your experience with others.

Everyone benefits when people share their experiences and lessons learned during a crisis. Think about how your response plan took shape. You may have looked at best practices and brand examples found in something like The Holmes Report. You might have attended a training or roundtable.

Attend the trainings again. Speak from the voice of experience and wisdom. Listen to people’s questions and comments—they may just have some insights or ideas that can be co-opted into your plan.

Want to learn more about crisis communications? View the white paper “How to Plan and Manage Crisis Communications in a Social World.”

Images: Felix E. Guerrero (Creative Commons)

About Erin Feldman

Erin Feldman is the director of editorial services at Tenacity5 Media. When she isn’t researching, writing, and editing blog posts and white papers, she writes poetry and essays, draws her favorite Write Right character, and plans what art form to study next. She’s based in Austin, Texas and can be found on Twitter @erinmfeldman.

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