We see it happening more and more often - a top retailer who steals a supplier’s concept after rejecting their proposal; a mining house that delays responding to unrest or a brand that doesn’t react fast enough to consumer complaints. With social media playing such an important part in disseminating information and being the platform with which mass dissatisfaction can be spread like wildfire, it is important for companies and brands to know how to react to diffuse difficult situations. In an interview with international website PRDaily (www.prdaily.com), Danya Proud, Director of media relations at McDonald’s USA, shared her views on the best and worst practices during a crisis.
- Whether a big or small company, you should always have a plan and be prepared for a crisis.
- Assess the crisis before reacting - inflating the situation before you’ve figured out the extent of it can be damaging. Once you have implications of the crisis on the company, work with key players in the organisation to prepare a plan and to contain the crisis internally.
- With social media moving so quickly you need to react quickly - even if it is to let the public know you are addressing the issue and that you’re on top of the crisis.
- Ensure that your spokesperson reacting to the crisis is capable and can manage the situation effectively.
- See the crisis as an opportunity - to interact with social media audiences, to set the record straight, even apologise or make good.
- Be aware of what are known as ‘C.A.V.E’ (‘Citizen Against Virtually Everything’) - people looking to stir up trouble. Learn to recognise these types and accept that there will always be those who will go against your brand, no matter what.
- Listening to what the consumer wants is crucial to solving the crisis. Consumer pressure is very powerful and often you have to put aside what you want to say or do and consider what the audience wants to hear.
- Don’t be afraid to own up to mistakes - acknowledging that you are not perfect can earn you consumer respect.