Brand image and how to maintain it as well as its reputation will always remain at the forefront of PR discussions due to its enormous importance.
Seasoned and experienced PR professionals’ core competencies should include the ability to handle a company in crisis and after the damage is done. At this time and age, there is no doubt that brand image, brand equity, positive brand recognition, and customer loyalty are what makes or breaks any company or organization. And rebuilding a ruined brand image requires effort and extensive knowledge.
So let’s say the worst has actually happened and the company is in crisis: Faulty products, health scare, ethical scandal, let your imagination run wild as the list is long. Ideally, the PR experts should be contacted first, not lawyers or the company’s legal department. The idea is to communicate with the concerned stakeholders and to maintain the company’s integrity in the eyes of said stakeholders. The company’s integrity involves a sincere public apology and an open two-way communication with the general public. Do not hide behind lawyers and vague statements. Your customers and stakeholders deserve to be in the know.
Make sure that a crisis plan is in place; a contingency plan should be developed along with the annual PR plan; however, it is bound to be tweaked, amended, and revised to fit the situation at hand. Nonetheless, being prepared helps you move forward with confidence. Later on, a content strategy should be devised whereby stories are posted online and offline to promote the company’s efforts with a positive outlook in mind.
Monitoring social media and websites is imperative. Everything should be taken into consideration and documented, and also handled by the PR professionals.
One of the stakeholders that should be handled with care is the workforce. Trust between the organization and the employees has been broken; thus, communication here plays a big role too. An open dialogue between senior management and the rest of the employees helps in rebuilding the bridges of trust, boosting their morale, increasing productivity, and ultimately retaining employees and decreasing turnover.