Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Crises are always around the corner, whether or not you and your business are prepared to handle them. You may never escape the possibility of things going south, but you can develop a crisis management plan that can help reduce, if not eliminate, their devastating aftermath.
Crisis management in marketing is especially important because it involves the public reputation and image of the company. The saying “any publicity is good publicity” won’t always apply when you’re taking blows from your negative reputation.
Crisis management in marketing can save your business from potential financial, legal, and organizational disasters. Below is a short guide on crisis management, the stages of a crisis, and the benefits of planning for a crisis:
Every business needs crisis management
Crisis management is a process that anticipates the worst circumstances and foresees how these will affect the brand’s reputation, reliability, and profitability. It’s a plan of action that aims to put contingencies in place against problems that could derail your business’s goals.
No business is safe from crises; so having a crisis management plan safeguards your brand’s stakeholders. Having a designated crisis management team is one of the best ways to make sure that problems that arise are assessed efficiently and addressed as quickly as possible.
The crisis management team shouldn’t monopolize the responsibility of managing a crisis. Although it’s the main group that handles problems, it’s also their job to ensure that everyone who is part of the business is equipped to face issues.
A crisis comes in stages
A crisis is a disruption. It wreaks havoc on your operations and makes it hard for your business to function normally. It is, however, not a single-event phenomenon. A crisis has stages that, if identified correctly, can help manage and minimize possible damages. Knowing the following stages of a crisis is crucial in developing a crisis management plan:
A crisis can arise from a single mistake, but it can also be a domino effect of unresolved issues. Usually, you can tell when a crisis is about to arise through warning signs, like financial losses and current political situations.
- Risk assessment
Once the crisis becomes apparent, it’s time to assess how it could affect your brand. Your team should predict what aspects of the business the crisis will likely affect and prepare everyone to take on this challenge.
Based on the risk assessment, the crisis management team will now decide on the best way to respond to the crisis, taking into account the responsibilities of everyone involved in making sure the crisis response is conducted well.
While the previous stage focuses on planning for a crisis response, the Management phase is about action. Here, all stakeholders involved in crisis management are working hand-in-hand to make sure the possible impacts of the crisis are averted.
This stage sees to it that the crisis is handled well and that any remaining aspect of it is quickly managed. In this stage, the team prepares for the shift back to normal operations after conducting troubleshooting sessions.
This stage is where the business is comfortably back to its daily routine, with the crisis fully averted. Here, the crisis management team should collate data about the implemented course of action, how it was conducted, and how well it solved the problem. This report will be very helpful in future crisis communications.
A crisis management plan is founded on the possible risks that a problem may pose, and how ready everyone is to handle these risks. Planning for the worst is always a good idea, and preparing everyone for the tasks they will attend to when the worst comes is important, too.
Crisis management in marketing is beneficial to your business
Neglecting to tackle a problem and letting it upset your operations are two things that no business owner should do. It’s a direct antithesis to a business’s topmost goals of satisfying its consumers and securing profits. Here are the benefits of planning for a crisis:
- It keeps you grounded during a crisis
When faced with a problem, anyone is susceptible to panicking and making mistakes. Establishing a crisis management plan prevents that.
When you have a solid and well-rounded plan, it’s highly unlikely that you and your team are going to fall flat on your faces when confronted with sudden issues. A plan orients you about the correct decisions that correspond to particular situations, and it sets responsibilities for everyone on the team. If you feel lost, feel free to consult your plan and revisit your goals.
- It protects your reputation
When your brand makes mistakes, better believe that the public will be there watching. With the omnipresent power of social media users, it’s so easy to “cancel” a brand when it doesn’t reflect consumers’ values. Social media are crucial to your marketing efforts; so knowing how to navigate them to protect your reputation is important.
A “cancelled” brand will see a decrease in patronage and a deluge of backlash. If not handled correctly, a business might not recover, and consumers may forever hold only its negative image in their minds. Crisis management aims to prevent and manage possible attacks from today’s “cancel culture.”
The main benefit of crisis management in marketing is that it saves you from potentially huge, devastating losses resulting from public relations disasters. These losses may come in the form of lost revenue and audiences for your business.
Big brands are good lessons in crisis management
Even big brands are susceptible to crisis and backlash. One of the best ways to improve your crisis management plan is to learn from the mistakes and triumphs of powerful businesses, in terms of crisis communications. Below are two recent examples of marketing crises.
- Starbucks and the Black Lives Matter Movement
The crisis: Recently, Starbucks was in hot water because of a leaked memo from the management banning their employees from wearing clothing or accessories that support the Black Lives Matter movement.
The response: This policy couldn’t have come at a worse time, with thousands of people around the world taking to the streets in support of the Black Lives Matter movement sparked by a series of killings of black men and women this year. After severe social media backlash, Starbucks released a statement reversing its policy and even offering its own shirt design supporting the movement.
- Planters and Kobe Bryant
The crisis: Early this year, Planters released a Super Bowl pre-game ad that shows its mascot, Mr. Peanuts dying. This ad aired on january 21 with a planned follow-up ad during the Super Bowl featuring the funeral. This comes almost a week before basketball star Kobe Bryant perished with his 13-year-old daughter and seven other people in a helicopter crash.
The management: Planters couldn’t have predicted the helicopter crash that took nine lives following their ad. However, they eventually decided to halt all ad campaigns in light of the tragedy, citing the need for sensitivity during that time.
Being a big and powerful brand doesn’t grant you immunity from disasters that stem from simple insensitivity. Small businesses face the same risk in their offline and online reputations. Crisis management skills can help your business react effectively to possible errors and faults.
Everything could go wrong in a split second. One misstep can cost your business millions in revenue and lost consumers. Crisis in marketing cannot always be averted before the damage is done, but the purpose of crisis management is making sure that the problem doesn’t cripple your operations and reputation to the point of impossible recovery.