This is actually a topic we’ve written about quite a bit in the past year. But for some reason, the speed at which corporations function is still pretty shocking to us, no matter how many big name brands we pick up. The fact is that crises are inevitable. Whether you’re a celebrity, a major corporation, a politician or even a first grade teacher. At some point in time, you will get punched in the face by a PR nightmare. What do you do? We recommend that you hit the ground running. And you keep running–for months and months and months.
There’s a little saying that goes, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” When it comes to Crisis Communications, ignore that phrase 100%. Growing up in the political campaign realm, you come to learn that time is the most precious commodity, so you don’t waste it. You can raise more money. You can recruit more volunteers. You can’t create more time. There is an election date that is set and it’s not moving! Corporations should have the exact same mind set, but they don’t. And I think that’s why the way our company operates is so refreshing for our new clients. We’re sprinters.
In today’s digital age, a lie can become a fact in just seconds, so your team better have the story straight and they better be ready to spill the beans ASAP. Because, almost immediately, your brand reputation has taken a huge hit. You may think, “Oh well, no one really cares about the small strand of salmonella found in our chocolate eggs because we’re a trusted family brand blah blah blaaah…” But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Mommies everywhere will have absolutely no problem writing your name off of their shopping lists, forever. The longer you wait to spread the truth and remedy the mistake, the further your brand falls on the buggy blacklist.
It may have been a little rash to recommend that you completely ignore the above phrase, because truly, Crisis Communications is a little bit of both. When your company is in a crisis, your teams’ butts better be sprinting to tell the truth, to take corrective action and to apologize over and over and over again. However, when it comes to rebuilding your brand, you’re in for a content marketing marathon. Your team is pivoting. You sprinted out of the gate and now you’re settling into cruise control with positive content about your brand on every channel. Prepare a long-term content plan and then rub it in your readers’ faces. Every single day. Sure, that salmonella strain was pretty sucky, we admit it… but don’t you remember searching for us in your Easter basket when you were growing up in Newberry, SC? We were there! You loved us. And you still love us… See what we did there?
Moral of the story: with crisis communications, it’s a marathon AND a sprint. Make sure the person advising you knows how to set the pace.