Just in the last few weeks, we have seen a lot of public relations disaster faced by some of the biggest companies in the world. Pepsi for instance had to pull their commercial starring Kendall Jenner for exploiting the resistance movement.
United Airlines has to put their CEO out there to publicly apologize for dragging a man out of the plane even if it is was the airline’s fault. Another Kendall Jenner appearance angered a lot of people. This time, it was Vogue India. It was meant as a celebration for Indian beauty over the years. Several successful
Indians could have been on the cover, but they chose Kendall.
The truth is that several companies have not recovered from these PR disasters at all. There were those that have declared bankruptcy as people started boycotting the products. Obviously, United, Pepsi or Vogue won’t close any time soon as they are huge companies. However, if you are running a small business, you can be vulnerable. A simple PR management issue could blow up. In today’s internet age, anything can happen. If you happen to deal with these problems, here are some tips to easily bounce back.
Own up to your fault
Most companies would rather deny the problem. They are afraid of the lawsuit that could follow if they accept wrongdoings. You would rather deal with this issue now and face the consequences right away before it gets out of hand. Take note that your apology could still earn some sympathy. Being too arrogant to not accept your fault could turn people off. You might prove your innocence later on, but you have already angered a lot of people. The BP oil spill in 2010 for instance was a massive problem for the oil company. They tried not to admit wrongdoing at first, but they eventually did. It made the public realize that blaming isn’t the solution but immediate action.
Do something good
Once the dust has settled, try repairing your company’s image by doing something great to committed customers and even those whom you have had issues with. If your products have caused illness or any other health issue, don’t try to bring the victims in court. Instead, pay for the hospital bills and visit them. If your company has caused environmental damage, rebuild the area that was damaged and commit to rebuilding other areas that were destroyed, even if your company wasn’t the cause.
Refusing to comment or being quiet about the issue does no good. Communication is the key. For instance, if you have to recall products that are already out, explain the reason why. Don’t just send a one sentence statement and remain quiet. Deal with the press. Clarify the problem. Don’t hide anything. Even if you are unable to explain your company’s side, the fact that you are trying to be transparent alone is enough to win some people’s hearts.
PR problems could happen any time. This isn’t the end of your company. You can still bounce back as long as you deal with the situation the right way.
Featured and 1st image by tedeytan (https://www.flickr.com/photos/taedc/32505986013/) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
2nd image by Senado Federal (CSF – Comissão Senado do Futuro) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons