“A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front-page ad.” – Richard Branson
The careers of cine stars and modern consumer brands share one common trait: both require constant levels of positive publicity to remain relevant in the public domain. Publicity, by definition, is designed to promote a product, brand, or service in the varied expanses of modern public spaces. In effect, publicity campaigns help position a brand in front of large segments of consumers and potential users with the objective of driving sales. Modern businesses must actively work to prevent brand PR disasters because such events hold lethal potential to demolish brand equity, result in immense damage to brand reputation, destroy the sales graph, trigger expensive lawsuits, and severely erode the engagement levels a brand has cultivated with consumers. In fact, the findings of a recent research report indicate, “20% of consumers may be hesitant to purchase high-cost items from brands that have experienced negative press.” In light of these observations, brands must invest to develop strategies geared to prevent brand PR disasters, firefight any negative PR, and avert commercial oblivion. The use of inter-linked illustrations represents one technique to develop such strategies.
PR crises can be damaging and disrupting for any brand. However, effective counter measures to prevent brand PR disasters must include an informed and active social media policy that drives positive interventions in a brand’s ongoing discourse with consumers, users, industry observers, investors, regulators, and other stakeholders. For instance, a chain of fast food restaurants could assign a team of competent professionals to avert crisis and prevent brand PR disasters. The monitoring of public sentiment on social media platforms, voluntary disclosures of (actual or perceived) misconduct, public notifications on the composition of fast food products, a genuine promise to revert on customer complaints in real time, public assurances and endorsements of industry best practices, new product announcements, etc. could comprise the sinews of a counter strategy. The outcomes of such synchronization could assist a brand to contain potential damage and rescue a brand from sinking in the public estimation. Such a technique, when developed inside a flowchart, can be refined by astute brand strategists.
Defective, sub-par, or unsafe merchandise could develop into a public relations disaster for a manufacturer and marketer of fashion products. Subsequently, the highly competitive world of modern fashion could emerge as the location of intense media scrutiny, and in reaction, press statements that seek to prevent brand PR disasters. Contingency plans could assist said manufacturer to contain brand damage and devise intelligent interventions that shape and mold the ensuing public discourse. Notable aspects of such plans could include the services of an online influencer, endorsements from top fashion celebrities, full-page advertisements in newspapers, television interviews with brand stewards, sound bites from industry observers, internal re-structuring in the affected organization, etc. Flowcharts could help position and animate these aspects; such illustrations allow organizational members to simulate various adverse PR scenarios and frame a series of cogent responses. The fashion brand must also invest in long-term planning in order to limit toxic fallout from an unfortunate episode.
An organizational response to a potential public relations crisis must trigger a calibrated response that emanates from multiple angles. Pursuant to such strategy to prevent brand PR disasters, an organization must create specialized, trained human resources that can analyze a crisis and weave a response statement(s) at short notice. In addition, technical resources should be put in place to ensure the flagship website can handle abrupt spikes in digital traffic. Further, stewards must design and frame approved statements for positioning in social media platforms; these initiatives can comprise the core of an initial response that helps the organization to interact with public relations agencies and media outlets. Additional initiatives to prevent brand PR disasters must include fluid and flexible lines of communication between the management cadre and frontline executives; this stance allows the entire organization to speak in one voice, thereby reducing the scope for garbled communication that could precipitate additional problems. When designed into the expanse of a flowchart, such a matrix helps the modern organization to cope with adversity in public spaces.
Sensitive situations involving race and gender can generate the proverbial bad press for a business conglomerate. In such scenarios, business enterprises may have to undertake post facto actions as part of a strategy to prevent brand PR disasters in the future. Such actions may involve a choreographed public relations campaign designed to contain negative publicity from an unfortunate incident. More pertinently, businesses must instil cultural values in their staff through classroom sessions guided by trained, experienced, and qualified instructors. Such actions allow the business to grow as an organization and cater to all manner of customers; these actions also empower the modern enterprise to evolve as a corporate citizen that operates smoothly in multi-racial milieus typical of modern social orders. However, the costs of such action may include adverse impacts on the bottom line of the business. Such costs are offset by long-term gains registered in terms of a renewed engagement with customers and fresh initiatives to expand the geographical footprint of an afflicted enterprise. Flowcharts can assist the modern business operator map and synchronize the above actions with a view to prevent brand PR disasters in times to come.
Soft power can play a critical role in preserving the integrity of a brand reputation and driving campaigns to prevent brand PR disasters. Certain sets of coordinated actions can be undertaken as part of such efforts to block damage to a corporate brand. For instance, the operators of a commercial airline service can undertake specific ameliorative actions in the aftermath of a tragic incident on board flying aircraft. Each affected passenger can be given a lump sum compensation, free travel vouchers, can receive personal phone calls from the chief executive of the airline, emails that offer support and counselling services, hotel bookings for long-distance travelers at the airline’s expense, etc. Such actions transmit a coherent message to the passenger and investor communities, thereby curtailing the scope for expensive lawsuits filed by irate passengers or precipitate drops in stock price following public outrage. These actions also convey the message that the airline remains a responsible corporate citizen and has undertaken every possible action to prevent brand PR disasters. The expansive reaches of a modern flowchart can help crisis responders to chart and map such actions.
The mechanics and strategies detailed above can emerge as important tools that help prevent brand PR disasters in modern times. The flowchart remains a core instrument (and mechanism of intervention) that allows brand owners to explore various scenarios and plot extensive remediation measures. The wide canvas, stages, sub-stages, and connections that comprise the modern flowchart offer significant space to brand owners and strategists to devise innovation into fire-fighting strategies; calm the nerves of users, customers, and other stakeholders; and reinforce public faith in a brand reputation during a public relations crisis. Different editions of flowcharts can help anticipate certain scenarios of adverse publicity and design corrective measures in advance. A common thread must distinguish such blueprints – open lines of communication can empower a brand to respond organically to PR crises. This stance ensures adverse publicity casts limited damage on corporate reputations, thereby preserving the ability to organize a matchless damage containment exercise.