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Brand reputation crisis management: a step-by-step guide

In our hyper-connected, always-on world, you have to know how to manage brand reputation crisis. The question is not if the reputation crisis will strike, but when will it hit and how well will you be prepared to handle it. Hopefully, with our step-by-step guide to a brand reputation crisis management, you’ll be able to weather any storm.

Nowadays, companies are more prone to a brand reputation crisis. Many have spent a vast amount of time and money on building their online presence.

Every customer can interact with a given brand. People can write negative opinions, spread stories about your product, or leave a 1-star review without any explanation.

The constant connection between brands and their followers gives more and more power to the latter.

That’s why bad news about reputation crisis spread so fast across the web.

The good news is, you can proactively prevent a crisis from occurring.

And if a brand reputation crisis hits you, you can limit the scope of the damage, or even turn the tables around and promote your brand.

The secret of success is to have a bulletproof brand management crisis plan in place.

Hopefully, this article will give you a general idea of how to prepare yourself for such an event.

Here’s what’s ahead of you today:

  • How to prepare to a brand reputation crisis?
  • Managing brand reputation crisis and media listening
  • Avoid brand reputation crisis
  • Prevent the escalation of a brand reputation crisis
  • Deal with a full-blown crisis
  • Brand reputation crisis management in a nutshell
  • How to prepare to a brand reputation crisis?

    Better safe than sorry — this saying is true not only when it comes to your health but also when we talk about protecting your brand reputation.

    We can divide brand reputation crisis management into three steps:

    1. Avoiding social media disasters altogether. I know it’s easier said than done, but it is possible.
    2. Preventing brand reputation crises from escalating. The faster you react to crisis, the better the chance you can contain its effects.
    3. Dealing with a full-blown brand reputation crisis. You can take all the precautions, but sometimes the crisis will just hit you. You have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

    How do you manage various types of brand reputation crises?

    Businessman and businesswoman in panic of the financial crisis pop art retro style

    There is some common ground to all three types of a brand reputation crisis management. You can implement some of the techniques at all three steps, and you can make everything all right.

    This step-by-step guide to a brand reputation crisis management will give you all the answers you need!

    Managing brand reputation crisis and media listening

    When it comes to managing a brand reputation crisis, media listening is a helping hand.

    The data gathered by the media listening tool will be useful in many stages of managing the crisis. That’s why I recommend setting up a project.

    It’s a piece of cake!

    In the project creation wizard, choose the type of monitoring that suits your needs.

    In your case, you should opt for Brand, as you’re most interested in mentions concerning your brand or product.

    project creation wizard where you can enter keywords you want to monitor online

    Fill in the keywords related to your company. Think about:

    • the name of your company
    • the name of your product or service
    • your branded hashtag
    • your campaign-specific hashtag
    • your @handle

    In the next step, you can add some extra sources, for example, Tripadvisor or Yelp reviews site.

    In the final step, you can specify the language you’d like to collect your mentions.

    And you’re all set!

    From that moment on, Brand24 will start gathering and analysing all publicly available online mentions.

    Give it a spin! Brand24 offers a 14-day completely free trial, no strings attached.

    Avoid brand reputation crisis

    The best way to manage a brand reputation crisis is to avoid one altogether.

    Sometimes, you can prevent a brand reputation crisis by merely being present and listening to online chatter.

    It’s relatively easy when it comes to your earned media. All you have to do is keep track of all the notifications you receive.

    Monitoring online conversations gets a bit tricky when the chatter happens on different channels. Constantly checking notifications on various social media channels and forums is a waste of time.

    Thankfully, all these pieces of information are available in the Brand24’s dashboard.

    Your secret weapon when it comes to managing brand reputation crisis is sentiment analysis.

    graphs showing the volume of mentions and sentiment analysis for a given project

    Sentiment analysis will detect how people feel about your brand.

    Are they happy with your product or service? Or maybe there are some aspects you could quickly improve?

    Your customers will also share online their negative experiences. The good news is you can still change the perception of your company!

    Once a user posts a negative comment, you have to act quickly. The faster you react, the lesser the chance the negative attitude will spread online.

    You can even score some points by showing your excellent customer service skills and turn the negative comment into a positive one!

    To do that, you have to be aware of the mention.

    Brand24 will not only gather publicly available mentions containing your predefined keywords. The tool also offers different notifications system you could use to always be on the top of things.

    You can set up three types of notifications and one bonus solution.

    Let’s start with notifications:

    • Slack notifications. Every time there’s a new mention, you’ll receive notification on your chosen Slack channel. If you use Slack daily, it’s incredibly convenient!
    • Email notifications. You can add email notifications in the project settings. Determine how often you’d like to receive an alert. You can also set filters, for example, receive only mentions with negative sentiment, or from a certain author.
    • In-app notification. Brand24 offers an app for both Android and iOS devices.
    A panel where you can integrate your brand reputation monitoring project with a Slack channel

    And now something extra.

    It’s not a notification, yet this integration can help you manage your brand reputation crisis.

    I’m talking about Messenger integration!

    You can integrate every project with Messenger and receive a short report with the latest statistics and mentions directly to your messenger.

    It’s not a real-time notification system. But it can give you a general overview of the most important developments in your project.

    Set up the rules in the beginning

    Your brand is present on different online channels. You’re responsible for the tone of discussion and behaviour of your followers.

    The one guideline I like to implement on earned social media channels — your place, your rules.

    Make it known from the beginning what behaviour will and will not be tolerated. The rules should be visible. Don’t hesitate to take down all the offensive posts.

    Another thing to make clear right at the beginning of your brand reputation crisis management plan is to set up the right expectations.

    If you’re small company chances are you might not be able to respond to every negative comment quickly.

    Be upfront with your customers and set reasonable response time. Your audience won’t wait forever for a response, so try to make it within a couple of hours of posting a question or complaint.

    Brand reputation crisis management tip: try to solve the problems as quickly as possible, so the crisis doesn’t spread on the Internet.

    Prevent the escalation of a brand reputation crisis

    You might miss something in your communication or misjudged a threat to your brand reputation.

    In that case, your job is to prevent the brand reputation crisis from escalating.

    It’s not the end of the world, but you have to put some effort so that the crisis won’t spread across social media.

    The first step is precisely the same as previously. Try to listen to your customers and reply to their complaints.

    Unfortunately, you might have passed the point when this approach was enough. Now you need something extra.

    Be transparent

    Nothing works like honesty.

    No one expects you to be perfect. There are real people behind your brand, and real people make mistakes.

    Why do honesty and transparency work?

    The simplest explanation is because people don’t like being lied to. By telling the truth, you show your customers that you care about them and consider them part of your family.

    Admit your mistake, apologise, and present a plan, or at least willingness, to change and repair the damage. Your customers will appreciate that and will spread the good news about your company.

    Be thoughtful

    Empathy can go a long way. Showing your unhappy customers that you care about their problems could even turn your critics into brand ambassadors.

    Being thoughtful builds trust, a currency you can’t buy. The more your customers trust your brand, the more willing they are to forget about your mistakes.

    Take a look at Adobe Customer Care:

    Moreover, word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of marketing there is. Recommendations from customers, who experienced a problem which you manage to solve, are priceless.

    Stay cool

    While dealing with brand reputation management crisis, emotions can get the best of you.

    That’s a mistake you can’t afford.

    No matter what happens, do not lose your cool. Stay professional and keep the discussion on civilised levels.

    Brand reputation crisis management tip: empathy goes a long way. To prevent a brand reputation crisis from escalating show your human face!

    Deal with a full-blown crisis

    Mistakes happen. Even if you do your best to avoid them, sometimes these mistakes can snowball into a full-blown brand reputation crisis.

    Bad news travels fast. Bad news online travels with the speed of light. That’s why sometimes a brand reputation crisis will escalate before you even have a chance to prevent it.

    That’s why you should know how to deal with a full-blown brand reputation crisis.

    You can salvage your brand reputation even from a major scandal. You need to be prepared!

    Hire the right people

    And by right, I mean experienced community managers.

    Community managers have done a ton of work fighting brand reputation crises.

    Experienced managers will know what to say and how to do it correctly.

    Another aspect of brand reputation crisis management is the accessibility of your social media. I know you trust your employees, but accidents happen.

    If only selected group of people have access to your social media accounts, you can make sure that you broadcast a consistent message across all your earned channels.

    Moreover, you’ll limit the risk of accidentally posting messages not meant for your business account.

    Just like British Airways did a few years back. The airline shared their competitor, Virgin Atlantic, Facebook post.

    Form a multidisciplinary team

    A developed brand reputation crisis requires crisis management plan.

    Managing a brand reputation crisis could involve many employees from different departments.

    Your brand reputation crisis management team should consist of team members from PR, HR, legal, marketing, and other relevant departments.

    These specialists should know how to contain the crisis and limit the damage.

    Diverse Business People on a Meeting

    It’s essential to train your brand reputation crisis management regularly.

    This last type of brand reputation crisis management could have a tremendous effect on your company — decreased sales, lost in trust levels, and so on. That’s why it’s vital to have the best of the best in your team.

    Brand reputation crisis management tip Be prepared for the worse. Train how to deal with unusual and highly demanding situations, so when the real crisis hits, you’ll know what to do.

    Brand reputation crisis management in a nutshell

    Brand reputation crisis is not the end of the world!

    You can even turn a brand reputation crisis into a win for your brand.

    Remember that everybody makes mistakes. Not every company, though, can show their human face and resolve a crisis so that people want to brag about their experience.

    Start with the simple tactic — listen to what people say about you. There is a great chance you won’t need anything else.

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    Marta

    Content Manager at Brand24. An avid reader and amateur baker. Passionate about mountains, travelling and jazz.