Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on March 18th, 2009

How To Manage Your Brand During a Crisis

Planning for brand reputation and management in crisis situations is a very smart long-term investment for your company. When a crisis does hit the company’s brand, its good to have a plan in place to minimize damage and land on your feet. Here are some pointers on how to manage your brand during a reputation crisis.
There are four main types of crises you can prepare for: physical, financial, ethical, and false rumors. You can begin by establishing who needs to be involved. It’s always recommended that you brainstorm what should be considered for the worst-case scenarios and how it will affect your brand. Establish protocol for employee responsibility and post-crisis evaluation processes. This protocol must be integrated seamlessly across all departments: Marketing, IT, Upper Management, Human Resources, and even the janitor.
Things to consider for your brainstorming session could be where to focus your planning. Should you focus on your prep online or offline? Most likely if you are reading this post, you are going to focus online. There are plenty of different free tools online to monitor your brand and ensure that you are maintaining the desired identity. Set up a Google Alert for your brand name and other variations. Search.Twitter will help keep you on the pulse of social media. There is also and Dream up mock crises situations and develop different exit strategies and plans. Once you have those in place you can layout the technical executions of responses to the scenarios and allocate the response responsibilities.
This should all be done transparently so that your employees are always on the same page. It is wise to set up an internal communications plan among employees for all the crises scenarios. Policies laid out in advance with employee representation involved in all steps of the planning. Add in a tablespoon honesty and three dashes of accountability, and your employees and vendors will be able to see right through you!
When evaluating a crisis, look at the following factors:
-    What is the potential reach of the crises damage on the brand?
-    What is the potential revenue loss of the crisis?
-    Is it a ‘game-changer’?
-    Will it alter the business in the long-term?
-    What is the viral likelihood of the crises?
-    Will this continue to haunt the company for years to come?
Once a crisis is over its always smart to quantify success. You continue to monitor your brand online and always note what you did or didn’t do and how it worked. If you are a brand of any size, you should, at the very least have a crises consultant come in to consult your brand for a few days and get the company on their toes.
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