Is a Crisis Always Bad for the Brand?
Brands in crisis. No longer is it a once-in-awhile occurrence. Now it seems there’s a brand in crisis on what seems almost like a daily basis. For many brands, crisis management has become just another part of their routine.
But is a crisis always bad for the brand? Are there ways a crisis can be handled that can actually turn it into more of a positive than a negative? Here we look at three brands that managed to mitigate the harmful effects of a crisis by managing it effectively.
3 Big Brands That Turned Their Crisis Around
When the makers of the kitchen staple Crock-Pot were unexpectedly thrust into crisis mode after a main character on the popular TV show This is Us died due to a fire caused by a slow cooker, fans were threatening to throw theirs out.
Fortunately, Crock-Pot was prepared to act quickly to save its image.
“They opened a Twitter account after the episode aired (@crockpotcares) that responded to many viewers’ tweets, and published a lengthy Facebook post to try and reassure customers that its signature appliance isn’t going to roast them in their sleep,” says Marketwatch.
The brand’s response to those who shared concerns on social media was lauded for its empathetic approach. It even created a hashtag (#CrockPotIsInnocent) to inject a bit of humor into the situation.
Just a few months later, Crock-Pot reported sales were up by more $300K. The crisis provided an opportunity for the company to increase visibility for the brand – and at the same time, build trust with old and new fans alike.
Starbucks is often faced with crisis situations. After all, the brand operates more than 30,000 locations worldwide.
One scenario the coffee giant faced occurred in spring 2018 when, “Two African-American men were wrongly arrested, for the crime of nothing more than just sitting in a Starbucks. When the manager asked them to leave because they weren’t buying anything, they said that they were waiting for a colleague to arrive. Not satisfied by their explanation, the manager called the police and had them arrested, which began a PR crisis for the entire company.”
How did Starbucks respond? It apologized—then it did what to some brands might be unthinkable. It planned a racial sensitivity training session and closed 8,000 stores for four hours so that 175,000 employees could attend.
The brand also changed its policy to allow anyone to use the store, even without a purchase.
Does this make it all OK? No. “We realize that four hours of training is not going to solve racial inequity… but we have to start the conversation,” said Howard Schultz, chairman of Starbucks at the time.
Instead of being a complete negative for the brand, it may have allowed Starbucks to set an example.
“One company’s PR crisis, and its swift (and I believe sincere) response could end up creating positive changes for many companies, for America, and maybe even the rest of the world,” says Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer at Shepard Presentations.
3. Red Hen
In June 2018, the Red Hen restaurant in D.C. was caught up in a case of mistaken identity when another location made news for turning away Sarah Sanders, who was then-White House press secretary.
“Imagine this scenario for a moment: You own a restaurant called the Red Hen, you’re minding your own business, and you wake up one day to a torrent of vicious online rants directed against your establishment—not because of something it did, but because it happens to share the same name of an unaffiliated restaurant embroiled in controversy,” Fast Company reported.
“I guess it’s a crisis,” said Alyssa Turner, public relations manager, “it’s a crisis of misinformation. We didn’t do anything.”
Turner’s approach? Maintain the restaurant’s voice and keep it professional—in spite of the torrent of tweets attempting to imply the two establishments were affiliated—and inject humor. The situation died down in a few days.
Keeping your wits about you may be the first rule in successfully mitigating any crisis. Turner’s handling of the incident provided an example of how to save a situation that could have easily spiraled into a much worse crisis.
Sometimes a brand crisis can be a blessing in disguise—or at least an opportunity to reinforce brand values. To make sure you’re prepared, read our ebook on how to manage brand crisis using the latest best practice in media monitoring and social listening.