Brands are more visible now than ever before. Companies have the luxury and the burden of performing well on social platforms. On one hand, it’s great that businesses have the opportunity to engage stakeholders and cast a bigger net; but on the other hand, there’s more ground to cover. Increased exposure can equate to increased risk; particularly when social media enables a direct and immediate exchange of communication. It’s important to be thoughtful and proactive so that your brand is prepared for issues and crises alike.
How are they different and why is it important? An issue is an important topic or problem for debate or discussion. A crisis is a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger. While on the surface these terms are related, the definitions allow us to create a larger distinction. As issues and crises relate to reputation management brands should monitor troubled instances through their lifespan: Immediate, Emerging and Sustained. Intensity and duration help to steer an issue to a full-blown crisis. Brands should prepare for either scenario as the responses to each are very different.
Remember every single touchpoint and response on social media is an extension of the brand.
Businesses encounter issues on a daily basis. Issues can be warning signs that a crisis is possible. No process and no brand experience is perfect. Know that mistakes happen, but how you handle them has everything to do with how enjoyable and sustainable your brand experience is. For example: say you own a hair salon and as a customer was checking out your system automatically tacked on 30% gratuity without the customer’s consent. This client might either address it in person or make a phone call once the mistake had been realized. Most likely the salon representative would issue a sincere apology and offer a refund for the intended amount. Or, the client might make a more public review on Facebook opening up this issue for viewership. Then what? Your formerly small issue snowballed a bit.
While less than ideal, even negative public feedback is an opportunity to demonstrate to the public HOW you handle conflict resolution.
Issues can give way to crisis. A crisis exists when there is sustained, irreparable damage to the brand, stakeholders or the bottom line. Ideally, you would already have assembled a crisis communication plan; but if not here are some best practices when your company or organization faces crises: