Fuel Cycle

Navigating The PR Nightmare

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In today’s business world, it’s easier than ever before to get your message out to your target audience. You can spread your company offerings around like confetti between your website, social media profiles, and email platform. The only problem with this ever-present communication? If your message is poorly crafted or customers find out you are lying, that too spreads like wildfire across the internet.

Bad press can reach hundreds of thousands of current and potential customers before you even get the chance to utter, “Oh my god!” In 2021, customers demand more transparency from the companies they love, with 94% of consumers stating that they would be more loyal to a brand that practices transparency. So if you’re experiencing a marketing emergency or public relations crisis, what you do next is imperative to your future.

Getting Out Of A Public Relations Crisis The Right Way

If you find yourself amid a PR nightmare, there are several steps you can take to turn things around.

1. Don’t Wait

Firstly, don’t wait to respond. Avoiding or delaying the PR issue is only going to make it worse. Start by holding a Public Relations crisis meeting with the right team in your organization to assess the damage done and craft a response plan. You will need to determine what needs to be addressed, who will handle it, and how you will communicate both internally and externally.

2. Stay Cool

There is nothing worse than responding to a marketing emergency with a knee-jerk reaction. Even if the crisis isn’t directly your company’s fault, it’s best to stay back, plan a strategy, and move forward with intention. If you operate a large corporation, it may be helpful to avoid interviews and release a PR statement to the media to reduce speculation or misunderstanding. If it’s a minor crisis only affecting specific customers, you may want to reach out to them personally. No matter how you respond, just remember to remain cool, calm, and collected.

3. Be Honest

Lastly, just be honest. Customers appreciate brands who admit when they’ve messed up. Trying to gloss over the situation or paint your brand as the “good guys” will likely come across as disingenuous and sleazy. Several studies and surveys indicate that practicing and cultivating a brand built on transparency is the best business practice.

A recent example of this was when in 2017, Pepsi released arguably one of the worst advertisements of all time. Failing to read the room, Pepsi pushed a TV ad that featured model Kendall Jenner handing a Pepsi to a police officer at a riot. Given the political and racial tension in the country, this was a public relations crisis almost immediately. Pepsi responded by fessing up to their failure, saying, “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologize.” Though the brand quickly rebounded, had they ignored or glossed over the response, things could have ended differently.

When You Can’t Avoid Marketing Emergencies

Sometimes there is no way for brands to avoid PR nightmares. Whether a supplier ran out of an important part, causing all of your shipments to be late, your e-commerce platform went down unexpectedly, or a disgruntled employee bad-mouthed you all over Twitter, there are things out of your control. All you can do is to respond promptly, keep your cool, and be as honest with your customers as possible; they will love you for it.

To read more about the importance of business transparency, check out our blog on the value of honesty.

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