Brand watchdogs and public-relations experts like creating lists, and unfortunately their focus is usually on the mistakes companies make. Botched cover-ups, poorly handled crises, and failed publicity stunts all have their place on such lists, but very rarely do we focus on the crises that are averted. That kind of list is much shorter, but here are some good examples of brands that managed to avoid PR disasters.
The Red Cross: How to Recover from Embarassing Tweets
It was only a single tweet made by a rogue employee, so the situation didn’t quite become a full-blown PR crisis. However, the company’s handling of the post is a prime example of a perfectly measured response. Upon realizing that the employee used the
corporate Twitter account instead of his personal one to share his plans to “get slizzerd”, the Red Cross took a lighter approach. They deleted the offending tweet, and assured all that they’d “confiscated the keys”.
Taco Bell: Quickly Countering Customer Claims
The fast-food chain was sued by a customer for deceptive marketing; a California woman complained that the tacos contain less beef than claimed. Taco Bell quickly responded by countersuing, posting the CEO’s video statement, and launching a sarcastic
media campaign with the tagline “Thank You for Suing Us”. The customer eventually dropped the suit without a fuss. For big brands reputation is everything and Taco Bell secured its place in the crisis management hall of fame by being decisive, quick and entertaining.
OB Tampons: A Personalized Apology
Johnson & Johnson’s feminine hygiene brand was boycotted by women everywhere after the discontinuance of the Ultra tampon. The resultant backlash seriously threatened the company’s reputation, but o.b. had a unique response in store. The apologetic public relations campaign included a personalized video saying sorry to their customers. You needed to visit a page dedicated to the apology and type in your name and you will get to see a personalize video like below.
Planned Parenthood: A Well Planned Social Media Strategy
Opinions vary on the Planned Parenthood/Susan G. Komen controversy, but there’s one thing that’s clear: Planned Parenthood’s response to being dropped from the grants program was top-notch. PP offered the Associated Press an interview, which was accompanied by multiple press releases and social media campaigns. Planned Parenthood’s strategy was effective because they utilized every member of the company, giving them a job to do. Tweets were shared, comments were posted, and petitions were circulated; eventually, Susan G. Komen reversed its stance. This article describe how they planned and executed the strategy brilliantly.
Newt Gingrich: Avoiding PR Disasters by Being Prepared
He isn’t really a “brand”, but his response to a PR crisis rivals that of any Fortune 500 company. During an ABC interview, his ex-wife alleged that he’d asked for an open marriage—a revelation that could have ended his campaign. Gingrich was ready though; when questions were raised during a live debate, he denied the story and portrayed the news media as the guilty party.
His response can be found here: http://youtu.be/PXVFxuMfGjU
Managing a crisis involves more than press releases and cable news appearances. News spreads around the world within seconds, and companies must be able to respond decisively and quickly through a variety of platforms. There’s no one method that always works in a crisis, but there are lessons that can be learned from the companies and people on this list.
This article was written by Ben Frisby on behalf of Insignia, a reputation management and communications consultancy.