A PR disaster is not something that any brand would ever want to go through. And there is plenty of advice on how to avoid one. However, that doesn’t mean that a brand is guaranteed to never suffer one. With that in mind, it’s important to know how to bounce back if your company does ever find itself in the middle of a PR disaster.
One such example of bouncing back well is that of Tiger Woods. Vilified after it was uncovered that he cheated on his wife, from 2009 onwards, Woods’ brand was in free-fall. His sponsors left him; his form dropped and his personal life was a shambles. And yet, now, in 2013, he is back to his best and growing his brand once more.
Admit your mistakes
As Mike Michalowicz, author of The Pumpkin Plan, says, it’s important to, once having gone through any PR disaster, admit that you’re wrong. “When your business makes a major mistake, you need to fess up. And better yet, fess up fast,” he says. At the same time, you need to be genuine in your confession. Only then are you able to move forward.
One only has to look at Lance Armstrong’s ‘confession’ to Oprah about taking drugs. It took years for him to admit it; and even when it did, it didn’t really feel that genuine. Will his brand ever bounce back? Perhaps. But only if he expresses contrition for his actions.
Looking even further back, as Kim Bhasin writes on Business Insider, in 1994, Texxaco employees sued the company for racial discrimination. In response, the CEO, Peter Biljur apologies publically and executives visited their branches to personally apologise to their employees.
Stop, drop and move away
Once you’ve admitted your mistake, immediate stop it and move away. “With your business, when things are bad, clean house and start anew. A fresh starting point is much easier to manage than a mix of your bad past and your new future,” says Michalowicz.
In 1996, a link between a Washington E.coli outbreak and Odwalla’s fresh, unpasteurized apple juice was established. After accepting responsibility, CEO, Stephen Williamson recalled all Odwalla products that contained apple juice. Of course, it cost millions of dollars for his company. However, it was the right thing to do. To give the story a silver lining, in 2001, Coca-Cola bought Odwalla for $186 million.
While stopping the production of a product or simply moving in a different direction may affect your company negatively, this should only be viewed as a short-term loss. Your company and its bottom-line will be better off in the long-run.
Rebuild your brand from scratch
In rebuilding your brand, you need to ensure that you are not only teaming up with the right people but also that you are picking the right path. Going back to the case of Tiger Woods, he chose a new coach and reworked his golf swing. On the branding side of things, he started dating Lindsay Vonn who is an established and well-liked sportswoman.
“Nothing can repair your bad brand reputation faster than linking up with an established, trusted brand, says Michalowicz. “If an established brand trusts you, consumers’ reason, they can trust you. As you recover, seek an ally with a strong brand that you can link with.”