Three things you should keep in mind to help your brand navigate smoothly through PR storms.
Making mistakes during the course of building your brand is inevitable, but how your company reacts to these fumbles will either further or hinder your company's cause. By ensuring that your community and PR teams are closely integrated, they can work together to ensure the best way to manage the public's concerns over a particular issue.
Recent headlines about Chick-fil-A have highlighted how the fast-food chain's CEO weighed in on one of the United States' most controversial social issues instead of simply sticking to promoting the company's brand. The CEO's public decree caused The Jim Henson Company - creator of The Muppets and a Chick-fil-A partner - to renounce said partnership publicly and pull its merchandise from the chain's stores. Ouch.
To further complicate things, Chick-fil-A was accused (very publicly) of creating and using a false Facebook account to come to the defense of Chick-fil-A regarding the removal of Henson merchandise. The "Abby Farle" account - complete with a stock photo - was exposed as a fraud by the Facebook community and the story was picked up by several major news sites. Despite company reps denouncing the idea, the public reality is the appearance of a "cover-up," which then causes community trust in Chick-fil-A to erode.
To help your brand navigate smoothly through these PR storms, here are a few things you should keep in mind:
Following the steps above won't prevent missteps from occurring, but it can make the recovery from them easier; and in the process you may gain new customers who respect your brand's honesty.
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Laney Whitcanack is Federated Media Publishing's chief community officer. Prior to joining FM, Laney co-founded BigTent in 2006 and focused on innovating online and offline ways to connect people with communities they care about. She spent the decade previous to BigTent coaching and training hundreds of community leaders, in the U.S. and Mexico, most recently as the director of community programs for the Coro Center for Civic Leadership.
A published author and speaker on entrepreneurship and community organizing, Laney received the Jefferson Award for Public Service in 2008. She is currently a board member of Zeum: San Francisco's Children's Museum and The Princess Project and is involved in even more community groups after the birth of her daughter, Campbell, last year. Laney has a B.A. from UCLA, and MBA from the Simmons School of Management, and an Ed.M from Harvard University.
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