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Response Strategy as a Tool for Crisis Management: The How to Guide for Responding When Crisis Hits

By SOL PR
12

Brands may not have control over the emergence of crisis, but they can control how they respond to it. How a brand responds to a crisis may determine its future in the short, medium and long term.

Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Quora among others have enabled the average customer to register displeasure with a service or product when their desire is unfulfilled. And the way these platforms work, small complaints could balloon into a full blown crisis if not properly managed.

It then begs the question, is there a right or wrong way to respond to crisis, complaints or allegations capable of denting the reputation of either a corporate or individual brand? The answer is YES.

You can either get it right or get it wrong. As such, brands need to avoid a fire brigade approach to crisis response. It is imperative that public relations executives identify and devise appropriate response strategies that will come in handy for various kinds of crises their brands are liable to suffer. 

So what are these crisis response strategies? Let’s dive in! 

Denial Strategy

Often, when brands are confronted with crisis or similitudes of it, the default response would be to deny the accusations or dissociate themselves from such occurrences. However, denial is not a one-size fit all approach to crisis response.

Truth be told, it is not uncommon for brands to have to tackle false allegations or dissociate themselves from occurrences or incidents capable of damaging public goodwill. In these instances, the ideal approach is to deny any form of association with such an occurrence with concrete evidence.

A public relations executive can simply issue a well written press release or statement to dissociate the brand from such allegations.

Diminishment Strategy

What happens when a brand has direct or indirect connections to an incident that has generated widespread backlash? The diminishing strategy comes into play.

In this instance, public relations executives can diminish the role their brands played in the decision making process by either justifying the incident or providing a valid excuse for their action.

For instance, when telecommunication brands in Nigeria came under fire for blocking phone lines of customers who failed to link their SIM cards with their National Identification Number (NIN), the networks took a diminishing posture by providing an explanation for their actions. 

They justified their action by explaining that they had acted in line with a directive issued by Prof Isa Ali Pantami, the former Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy. This way, the brands have diminished the prominence of their action and attributed the decision to the Federal Government. 

Public relations executives can take advantage of the interactive nature of social media to deploy this approach along with a radio interview or press statement.

Rebuilding Strategy

How about when a brand is solely culpable for an incident? The rebuilding strategy is most appropriate. The aim is to improve the brand’s reputation and rebuild the goodwill lost. In this instance, the brand admits responsibility, sympathizes with the affected public and offers remediation or compensation. 

An example is when Access Bank was under fire in 2020 for deducting stamp duty fees in retrospect from its customers’ account without prior notice. In response to widespread backlash, the bank admitted fault and offered to shoulder the stamp duty fees for the affected period. 

Public relations executives can deploy press statements, press briefings, television interviews, Twitter Spaces or Instagram Live to execute this approach.

Bolstering Strategy

Sometimes, brands suffer Act of God crises where incidents totally out of their control happen in a way that threatens their reputation. As such, a public relations executive must be constantly reminded that the best time to prepare for a crisis is when there is none. 

The bolstering strategy comes in handy for brands with strong reputation and goodwill among their publics. This involves apologising for the incident, providing an explanation for how the brand was a victim of an Act of God incident and reminding the public about the brand’s commitment to quality products or services in a way that bolsters the brand’s reputation inspite of the crisis.

Public relations executives can deploy this approach by maintaining a strong presence online to deal with customer complaints, frequent publication of updated FAQs for the public, press statements to provide a full picture in times of crisis and press briefings to give a face to the brand. 

Conclusion..

As more brands deepen their presence on social media, they become more vulnerable. The onus, therefore, lies on brands to engage the services of top PR agencies such as SOLPR to manage their reputation and handle crises for them.

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