P U B L I C R E L AT I O N S
“Your brand equity is earned over many years and
you don’t want to lose that in one bad scenario.
Consider that every crisis really is an opportunity
to either increase that trust or damage it.”
– Mari-Lou Nidle, InHouse Media + Marketing
Both Nidle and Froese believe the best way to deal with potential
threats to a brand is to think ahead.
“Don’t wait for the crisis to happen. Have a damage control
plan in place – usually that’s called a brand reputation management
plan,” said Nidle. “It is really a communications strategy on
how to handle a crisis, and it’s better if everybody is in agreement
on how the process is going to go before anything happens.”
Nidle believes identifying the target audience and the best
methods to reach them are key aspects of a good brand reputation
She says it should also include your key value proposition
about what the company and its products stand for. Nidle maintains
that having a brand message in place that can be incorporated
in problem situations can be very beneficial because when a
crisis occurs, “you don’t have much time.”
Froese agrees that planning is paramount when it comes to
heading off a public relations crisis.
“If you can anticipate a problem and have a response in your
pocket, it makes things so much better. You’re much better positioned
when you actually have your talking points and know what
your responses will be should that crisis arise,” she said.
Froese believes a really useful exercise for companies is
to have their management team get together to discuss worstcase
“No one really likes to have those kinds of conversations, but
I think they’re important to have as part of your strategic planning
process so that you can just be ready,” she said.
Do the right thing
Nidle maintains that when serious brand issues arise, sometimes
people within companies or public relations agencies can get lost
in trying to figure out what’s the right thing to do.
“Well, the right thing to do is pretty darn simple. It is not complicated,”
she said. “I usually say it’s the same rules your parents
taught you. Tell the truth or what you know. Admit when you’re
wrong. Apologize. Fix the problem. Continue to do better. That’s it.”
Nidle believes it’s key for companies to have a legal team in
place that understands when disclosing information, limiting liability
should not come at a cost to the brand’s reputation.
“Sometimes liability is the least of your concerns if your reputation
becomes damaged beyond repair,” she said.
Nidle maintains it’s usually best to admit the truth, even when
it casts companies in a negative light.
Photo courtesy of Town Hall Brands
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