Marketing Blog | Addison Clark | Richmond, VA

Reverse Social Marketing: Crisis Management

Much of the social media world is still being figured out. The best approach to understanding how exactly this works is knowing that what you are dealing with is two-way communication. We are past the days of brochures and billboards, comment cards and customer complaint files. The future of social media holds the possibilities of websites, blogs, and real-time updates, but that comes with the horror of complaints being filed right on your website for all to see-- and it all boils down to how you react. So what should you do if you get a bad review? Let's say someone came to your Facebook and posted a bad review on your wall on how bad your customer service is, or someone with a huge following on twitter made a tweet about how much they dislike your company? How do you respond? Addison Clark Online would like to offer a few tips on how to handle public relations when things go wrong.

1. Do not point fingers.

Blaming someone else will make you look bad; no matter if it is your fault, your brother's fault, or completely out of your hands, do not do it! It is YOUR company, so regardless of the issue, the best way to handle this crisis is to take responsibility and own up. Take for instance the case of Johnson and Johnson when their Tylenol bottles were tampered with. (For more info. check out this site). In short, seven people were found dead after taking extra-strength Tylenol. The bottles had been tampered with and deadly cyanide had been inserted into the pills. Instead of pointing fingers and blaming the person(s) who had done the tampering, Johnson and Johnson assumed responsibility and removed the product off of the shelves in a massive recall. The public's safety came first, and J&J risked their own profit to ensure that no one else would be hurt by their product. Their reputation was saved and they have continued to prosper since this tragic incident.

2. Silence is your enemy!

Some people think they if they do not respond to a bad review, it will go away-- wrong! In a world where media is available at the click of a button, videos can go viral within an hour. Let's analyze the Domino's pizza crisis where two of their employees put up a "fake" video of them mishandling food, including putting cheese up their nose and violating multiple health-code standards. (Check out this article). The video spread fast, and resulted in the two employees being charged with felonies and being fired. But what about the reputation of the company? They faced millions of appalled customers, and a multimedia frenzy was quickly backing them into a corner. It took Domino's pizza a few days to respond, and even then, their apologies seemed a bit phony and they kept repeating that the video was supposedly a joke. Maybe if they had responded immediately, the video could have been removed, as well as the two employees, and Domino's could have saved their reputation by appearing more sincere and concerned about their customers. Instead, they are still working to recover from this abomination.

3. Have a Crisis team ready at all times!

A crisis does not always have to be considered a bad thing. This past Spring, VCU put their name on the map as their Men's Basketball team entered the Final Four. Nationwide, people were wondering who the Rams are. VCU had to go into crisis mode; this was an event that could help them potentially reach an entirely new audience, so why not use it to their benefit? Commercials had to be made by advertising departments, centering on VCU basketball and al l of the great things that the school is known for. Let's be serious, some of the first few commercials weren't all that great. The school's website also took a hit. VCU's website received over 11 million hits that Sunday night after beating Kansas, and donations hit over $250,000. VCU's crisis team definitely had to be prepared to work around the clock! Having a plan for a crisis never hurt anyone-- it's inevitable that a crisis will happen(whether it be good or bad), but being prepared will be your best defense.

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