Is your company ready to defend itself in the media? 4 Tips
What would happen if your company or brand was suddenly called out by a politician, in the news and under fire? Would your company be prepared and ready to defend itself?
In the past, politics and corporate worlds were more like church and state. There were much fewer opportunities to intersect. Today, the internet has made getting news more immediate, as has a rapidly changing political landscape and the new administration’s succession of legislative changes, where companies and brands can be called out by political leaders. A tweet or event can have severely damaging effects on one’s image and reputation. Case in point: Harley Davidson ultimately cancelled a recent visit by President Trump last week out of concern it might ignite protests and alienate consumers. Although I’m not privy to their internal processes, it’s highly possible that the company had a crisis communication plan in place and a draft statement on file that could easily be finalized and issued to the media.
Following are 3 tips to prepare your company for a crisis:
Stay True to Brand Values
In crisis situations, the best way a company can respond is to be true to its brand values. Starbucks was criticized for announcing that it would hire 10,000 refugees in light of the travel ban President Trump issued – a controversy in itself. In this case, it’s doubtful Starbucks will suffer further consequences because its decision to hire refugees is in alignment with its brand values; loyal fans of the coffee chain know what the brand is about and most probably won’t be dissuaded from buying it.
Strategize in advance
In the case that your company finds itself in the political spotlight, it’s important to strategize in advance. Who, within your company would be involved in making critical decisions? How would you respond? Who would you call? The most prepared companies will start early, before a crisis actually occurs, playing out potential crises and corresponding responses. Importantly, they will have draft statements pre-approved by management so as to save time in the event something happens and an urgent response is needed. When we work on detailed crisis communications plans for clients, they provide a number of “what if” scenarios.
Stay away from politics
In lieu of getting deeper into the political fray, drawing greater attention and inciting divisiveness, it’s best to refocus attention and messaging on how your company or brand embraces positive “American” values. Focus your response messaging about the pride your company takes in its products and quality, on freedom, diversity and respect for others.
Practice Your Plan
Once the crisis communication plan is in draft form, it’s wise to convene the crisis team and practice. You’d be surprised how many strategies and tactics that are on paper don’t necessarily make sense in the real world.
Has your company been the target of a political attack? How was it handled?