Warren Buffet had once famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

With increasing digitization, the advent of social networks and explosion of information, your customers know exactly what’s going on with your brand. The effects of this can be tremendous, especially if your brand is facing a reputation crisis. Dealing with them can get extremely challenging for PR agencies.

A well-thought-out content management strategy can aid a brand’s PR initiatives greatly. It can not only help you determine when, where and in what context your brand’s name is being mentioned, but also enables brands to create optimal responses in minimum time to salvage the brand’s reputation.

Mentioned ahead are the elements that a robust content management strategy should encompass in order to deal with crisis effectively.

Your Website Is Your Ally

Effective communication can be highly instrumental in crisis management and what better place to disseminate your brand’s message to the audience than its own website! The great thing about it is that you decide what to publish on it. You can use your brand’s website to publish updates and information that can douse controversial fires while communicating directly with your audience.

To mitigate a crisis, adjust your homepage content and allow it to touch upon the issue directly. Convey to your audience the steps your brand is taking to tackle the issue and inform them of the positive outcomes achieved. Alternatively, you can also use a dark site to deal with the crisis. As long as your audience continues to have faith in your words, your brand has a chance to sail through choppy waters.

Watch out for Brand Mentions

It is a great idea to deploy certain other social media listening tools to be in the know of what the audience is saying about your brand. With the world congregating on social media platforms to discuss almost every topic and brand under the sun, it makes sense to employ tools such as HootSuite, Mention, Social Mention and Awario to your advantage.

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Further, Google Alerts also works well in tracking mentions of your brand’s name. It will send you an email if news, articles, web pages or blog posts carrying your brand’s name feature in the top ten Google News results, the top ten Google Blog Search results or top twenty Google Web Search results.

According to Search Engine Land, “Paying attention to the discussions of your customers and prospects can do wonders for your marketing strategies. Uncovering brand mentions can lead to:

  1. Reputation management opportunities.
  2. Honest feedback and insight.
  3. A better understanding of how customers interact with your product or service.

In other words, tracking brand mentions enables brands to know customers’ perception of them and offers brands opportunities to leverage this information to build their reputation.

Brand Story and Success Stats

If you want customers to talk favorably about your brand, you will have to build positive sentiment around it. One of the best ways of achieving this is by letting your loyal customers do this for you, while you create positive brand stories. After all, they’re your brand advocates and their word can help you wade through a crisis.

Wondering what factors make effective brand stories? I’ll tell you.

  • Your story should be original, truthful and simple. It should have a beginning, a middle and an end.
  • Your story should clearly convey the reason behind your brand’s existence.
  • The goal of your story should be to connect with customers.
  • Your story should exemplify how it is touching human lives and making a difference to their existence.
  • It should position your products/services as a solution to customers’ problems.
  • It should inspire customers to trust your brand.

Ensure that your brand story does not harp endlessly on your products and services, but focuses on the value customers will receive when they engage with it. This will help your audience resonate with your story.

A brand like North Face that sells activewear, outdoor sports gear, and equipment will obviously want to reach out to people who like indulging in intense physical activity, exploration, and adventure. In fact, the brand aims to encourage customers to embrace adventure and outdoor life. This is well-explained through their tagline, “Never stop exploring.” Their brand story is in tandem with this ideal.

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North Face’s legacy can inspire customers who want to be a part of their success story. When this happens, your brand earns customers’ trust and you can convert them more easily. Supporting your story with relevant and current statistics can further help you get into your audience’s good books.

Harness the Power of SEO

Did you know that 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision, and they are now essential for e-commerce sites?

When customers search for your brand’s name on Google, the last thing that you’d want is for them to stumble upon negative reviews and feedback on the first page of the search results itself. Under no circumstances would you want your brand’s name to be found on a spiteful blog run by an angry customer or an investigative report published online by law enforcement authorities. This is where a solid SEO strategy can help.

Careful keyword analysis can help you track content that shows up in the most-searched keywords.

Typically, the following keywords are used:

“brand name”
“brand name” + “reviews”
“brand name” + “issue”
“brand name” + what the crisis is about

For example, users searching for reviews of the recently launched Samsung Galaxy S8 will probably see this on Google:

You will do well to hire a reputed PR agency as it will help engender positivity around your brand with the help of top journalists and editors in their network. But, if you’re a small business and cannot afford to engage a PR firm, be on the lookout for negative results for your brand and focus on building an SEO strategy that will weed it out with the help of fresh content.

Social Media Matters

Whether your brand is available on all social networks or just one, if you aren’t taking your social media game seriously, take a look at the below examples. They show how the same platform was used by two different brands and the difference in the way they handled controversial situations and managed their reputation.

American Airlines was left embarrassed for sending out automated Twitter responses to its followers. Ross Sheingold, a Twitter user, called them out when he noticed a rather odd response from the airline to an abusive tweet. The response actually thanked the abuser for their support. This was enough to throw the Twitterverse into a tizzy with users taking digs at the airlines. American Airlines’ response didn’t help and they chose to delete their automated tweets and replied to the abusive tweets with cold, futile messages.

Virgin, on the other hand, has delighted customers time and again. Virgin Trains came in the news in 2013 when they helped a traveler, Adam Greenwood by promptly delivering fresh toilet paper when he ran out of it on the train. All the communication took place on Twitter.

Virgin’s response not only struck the right chord with Twitterati but also became a shining example of how brands can engage their audience in a funny and helpful manner, thereby navigating sticky situations with grace.

Convey Messages in Multiple Formats

When involved in a crisis, tap into different content formats to disseminate your brand’s messages across audiences. If possible, send out a message straight from the horse’s mouth, i.e. the company’s leadership, as that’s bound to garner more trust. In fact, crafting the same message in different formats can work wonders during a crisis.

Using different formats to dish out content helps you engage better with audiences across demographics and with different interests. This helps them know your brand-related facts quicker and better, which can ultimately save your brand’s hard-earned reputation.

Apart from text, the same message can be disseminated in various formats such as videos, images, podcasts, infographics, webinars, Slideshare presentations, e-books, press releases, and so on.

In April 2009, two Dominos’ employees posted a silly and repulsive video, which was quickly picked up by Twitter and the mainstream media. Dominos published an apology on its website and asked employees with Twitter accounts to tweet a link to it. This hardly helped though. After all, how many of us actually read press releases on Twitter?

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However, Dominos followed up by creating a dedicated Twitter account and issuing an apology in a YouTube video, which helped the company get back on its feet to a great extent.

Conclusion

Most brands have experienced a crisis at some point or another. However, it is not the mistake they make, but the way they handle it that matters in the long term. A strong content management plan can help brands take control of awry situations, regain customer trust, and preserve the sanctity of the company’s name and reputation.