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Plan Ahead and Make a Crisis Plan to Protect Your Business

If you own a business and have spent any amount of time talking to someone who specializes in public relations, reputation management, or marketing, you’ve likely heard of a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. For the purpose of this blog post, we’re going to focus on threats to your company. No matter how big or small your company is or what industry you’re in, the moment you open for business you expose yourself to certain risks, many of which involve your reputation. That’s why today, we’re going to prepare you, so you can respond to any reviews or missteps that may ding your brand in the future. 

Determine what weaknesses and risks you face

The most important part of developing a crisis plan is understanding what you may be up against. Perform a risk assessment to see where the holes in your business model, marketing strategy, or anything else are hiding. This will help you navigate resolving the problems should they become an issue. If you can’t be unbiased about your own company, outsource the work so a set of objective eyes can help you prepare. These risks could include embarrassing email correspondence, bad reviews, misunderstandings on social media, advertising messaging blunders, or a plethora of other problems. 

Assess the potential impact on your business

Some blunders will have minimal impact on your business and will just require some smoothing over. For instance, accidentally sending the wrong color purse to your client is an inconvenience, but it can easily be replaced and your company can apologize. Just throw in a coupon or a freebie to help satiate the upset customer, and you won’t ever have to think about it again. 

However, more serious advertising blunders like Bud Light’s ‘Up for Whatever’ campaign in 2015 can be classified as a crisis. That was the year Bud Light added the slogan, “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.” It caused a massive public outcry and hurt the company’s reputation.

While Bud Light originally intended to connect with a young, college audience and inspire them to welcome adventure, they didn’t consider how the slogan would sound like it was encouraging sexual assault. Almost immediately, people in every corner of our society were calling Bud Light the “date rape beer” and they were being admonished on national news shows and entertainment media. 

While that example sounds pretty bad, it can get even worse for businesses. Some mishaps could lead to loss of income, fines, or even a total shutdown of the company. 

Focus on Prevention

Once you know what could go wrong, it becomes a lot easier to avoid the issue or crisis altogether.The first thing you may need to do is train your employees so they know how they should behave and speak in public, especially when they’re representing your brand.

As a school, you should know how to protect students and faculty during an active shooter situation. Publicly traded companies should know how to handle the potential ramifications if a chief executive dies or is found guilty of fraud. Hospitals should have plans in place to keep administering care even during power outages. A company that lets staff use company cars should know what they’ll do if one of their drivers causes a fatal pile-up on the freeway. If there’s anything bad that could happen to your company or its staff, you should think of a way to avoid it altogether. Once you’ve covered all of your bases, you’ll need to decide what to do if you missed something. 

Start Planning Your Response

Now that you’ve asked yourself, “what could go wrong?” you can start strategizing. Devise a plan to manage the crisis if a problem still arises. During this time, you should figure out who is responsible for what, and when an issue becomes a crisis. Here it’s important to note the difference between an issue and a crisis.

Issue– It won’t hurt the business’s reputation, it won’t affect sales, and it’ll only be a blip in the news if it’s covered at all. 

Crisis– This may damage the company’s reputation, make them lose money, and needs to be handled immediately.

An Unavoidable Crisis

Some problems are just unavoidable. For example, on ‘This is Us’, America’s favorite TV dad died when a slow cooker caught on fire. Even though there is no record of a Crock-Pot ever killing anyone, there was a huge public outcry and many people threatened to boycott the brand. 

Even though Crock-Pot didn’t initially have a Twitter account, they joined the platform with a well-developed response plan ready to go. They got to work showing empathy for Jack (a fictional character) and his devastated fans, publicly asked NBC to help them share facts about their product with viewers, and responded to tweets,  putting people’s fears to rest. This example goes to show that sometimes the problem isn’t your fault and can’t be anticipated. But you’ll avoid a lot of problems by being prepared. 

Dallas Digital Marketing Agency

Today we covered the basics of creating a crisis plan, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you need help with online reviews and reputation management, then you need Rise Local. Our team of Dallas digital marketing experts can respond to Google reviews, audit your online presence, and prepare the copy and media you need to defend your business in the wake of a disaster. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation. Together, we can ensure you’re not caught unaware and unsure of what to do when a problem arises!

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