The point of this post is not to pile on the disgusting Domino’s Pizza video.  It is, though, a great opdominos-pizzaportunity to reflect on the importance of crisis communications.

From last week’s Advertising Age and last week’s PRWeek (sorry, login required), to this week’s PRNews, there is no end to the chatter about Domino’s, Motrin moms, Taco Bell rats and #amazonfail.

I really like the focus on the several steps that PR professionals recommend for any company, whether direct-to-consumer or B2B:

Ad Age says: Identify your crisis team; plan for nightmare scenarios; track the blogosphere and other social media; and, don’t wait.

PRNews adds: Prevent; manage; recover; repeat.

There is little question that the internet and social media has provided a new and incredibly powerful outlet for the nearly instantaneous spreading of news, good and bad.  It is equally a source for brand nightmares as for reputation management, if you know how to access and use it.

Internet or not, most of the basics of reputation management haven’t changed:

  • Have a plan and keep it current – be sure to practice regularly and keep accountabilities current for changing personnel.
  • Understand and have a plan for social media and consider your Web site as a platform from which to communicate.
  • Be prepared to respond quickly, but be certain to carefully assess what is occuring in the market place for fear of inadvertantly feeding the frenzy.
  • Be transparent – always tell the truth.  Listen to your lawyers, always, but make your decisions for the sake of the brand not just for litigation preparation.
  • Stick to your message – think your response through carefully and move off of it grudgingly, only when something unexpected happens.
  • Debrief and learn, all in the spirit of preparing for the next threat to your brand reputation.

There are many good sources of information for crisis management.  At Vehr Communications, we publish “Insights” and recently posted “Crisis Communications … Staying in Control of Your Message”.

The international PR partnership known as IPREX (we are a member) recently collaborated to publish, “Crisis Communication: Practical PR Strategies for Reputation Management and Company Survival”.

There is really no excuse to be unprepared. 

Post by Nick Vehr – 4.29.09

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