How To Dig Your Brand Out Of A Crisis

How To Dig Your Brand Out Of A Crisis

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Brands are inevitably going to have a pickle at some point. Handle it well and your brand could be saved.


Sometimes there’s no way to make a bad day at the office better.

Take the disastrous leaking of Sony Pictures’ hacked emails, which caused strained relations from Hollywood to the White House, followed by the debacle of the canceled release–then subsequent release–of its film “The Interview” due to terrorist threats.

A speedy “sorry” while falling on a sword of accountability hardly provides damage control for wounds that deep. But often images can be repaired and restored. You just need a plan.

“Given the world we live in, the only thing a company can be confident of is there will be a crisis,” said Tim Calkins, clinical professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Chicago, in an interview with “The way you respond will impact your brand for years.”

Here are five best practices on how to avoid fanning the flames of corporate crises.

’Fess Up And Fix It

Even when you’re unsure how a gaffe occurred, own it: Take responsibility, voice remorse, and show concern for the public. Rather than theorize what went wrong, delve into the mishap so you can fix the flub and make sure it won’t reoccur. Give a timetable for further news.

And do so quickly: Social media’s speed gives you scant time to get ahead of a disaster and shape news coverage.

“Tell it first and tell it fast,” said Blair Christie, SVP/chief marketing officer at Cisco, in an interview with “As painful as that might be, it’s much more painful to clean up after.”

Consider Southwest Airlines’ handling of a plane that landed nose-first at New York’s LaGuardia airport in July 2013. Prompt tweets and Facebook entries let the public know the carrier cared about passengers’ safety. Southwest vowed to review the incident, which led to the firing of one pilot and further training for another staffer three months later.

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