Handle a brand crisis

1. Use a social listening tool like Google Alerts, Spout Social, or SocialMention to monitor brand mentions and conversations online.

Using a tool that consolidates the information in one dashboard can help you spot a potential brand crisis quickly. These tools also make it easier to streamline responding to individual user comments and DMs about the situation, to help repair brand trust and show your audience that you care about rectifying the issue responsibly. To set up Google Alerts: Sign in to a Gmail account on the Google Alerts homepage. Enter your business’s name into the text box. Click on Show Options under the text box. Use the drop-down boxes to select your preferences for How often, Sources, Language, Region, How many, and Deliver to.  Click the Create Alert button to save your preferences and begin receiving alerts for brand mentions straight to your inbox.

2. Assess the extent of the situation using your social monitoring tool and identify the online platforms where the most conversation is happening around the situation.

Review user concerns and conversations around your brand to gather details about what has happened. Take inventory of how the public responds and which platforms they are using to voice the majority of their concerns. Act quickly to make a public response to the crisis.

3. Assemble your team to brief them on the situation so that you can work on solutions.

Direct your team on how to respond to members of the press or public during the situation. They should not disclose any details on the situation before your brand has delivered a professional response to the press and public.  For example, you might instruct your team to respectfully decline to answer any questions about the situation, but inform people that your business is taking the utmost care with the situation and working swiftly to publicly address the concerns as soon as possible.

4. Determine how the brand crisis will impact your audience and their trust for your brand going forward. Consider what they will be most concerned about as you draft your response to the crisis.

Monitor what your audience is saying online. Are they raising specific concerns? Address these concerns in your public response to show that you are taking the situation and their concerns into consideration. Take the opportunity to reassure your audience about any aspects of your brand and business that are being impacted negatively by the brand crisis.

5. Decide on the best place to respond to the crisis, depending on where the most conversation is taking place and where your message will reach the most people.

For example, if conversations around the crisis are prevalent on social media, take to your social channels to make your response visible on those platforms. You can also have your team reach out directly to journalists who have been reporting on the situation to share your brand’s side and reach a wider audience with your statement.

6. Choose the methods your brand will use to respond in the places that you have determined require a public statement.

Create a video response that you can post online and send directly to members of the press. Video gives you the opportunity to showcase your human side, show remorse for the situation, and express a tone that fits the situation as you address the crisis. Getting the appropriate tone across is important and is easier to display through video than text. Have your team respond directly to some of the comments and posts across social media or online forums as well, to interact directly with your audience or even link to your public statement about the situation.

7. Continue monitoring the situation and the press and public's response to your public statement to determine how to continue handling the situation.

If the public is responding well to your initial statements, continue to follow conversations about it online and respond directly to concerns. If the public is responding negatively, reassess the situation, determine why people are unhappy with your statement, and develop an improved response to the situation.

8. Use what you have learned from your brand crisis to prevent another one from happening in the future.