For this crisis communications “do,” we’re taking a tip out of our very own political campaign rulebook. We actually covered this point during our Political Marketing for Corporations series, but we’re going to touch on it just once more.
Since Push has started taking on a ton of corporate work, our eyes have been opened to the inefficiencies of some larger organizations. Generally, the bigger they are, the slower they are. And big businesses can be amazingly unprepared for problems. They react to crises completely differently from the way a political campaign does.
Here’s the difference: campaign managers have fire drills set in place for a number of different crises. They’re prepared to react quickly. Large corporations tend to call their lawyers and have meetings.
In politics OR business, you should recognize every crisis as an opportunity, and pivot to a positive note while you’ve got everyone’s attention. Or as our very own Phil Vangelakos so elegantly put it, “Sometimes the forest needs to burn down for new growth to flourish.”
A really good campaign manager can see the significant opportunities that await beyond the crisis…and maybe even because of the crisis. Why? Because when you’re running a political campaign, you have one goal (to win) and you have a finite timeline to achieve that goal (election day). It’s an absolute waste of time to keep revisiting your mistake because by now you’ve already owned up to the crisis, apologized to no end, explained how you’re going to fix it and now all you need to do is just move on. No matter what, you must keep your eye on the prize. Eventually, the media and press will die down and when it does you’ve already discovered a new path to victory and your team is cruising through the punch list.
Let’s take a look at Taco Bell for example. In 2011, a lawsuit was filed against the fast food chain claiming their “seasoned beef” only contained 35% meat and, therefore, they were making false claims in their advertising. The company pivoted and fired back hard; declaring the lawsuit to be full of lies. Taco Bell released a multi-level PR campaign about their “not-so-secret” recipe across traditional local market newspaper ads, along with a heavy focus on online marketing including a YouTube channel, Facebook page and more.
As a result, the lawsuit was dropped in less than four months and Taco Bell’s social media channels shined with an outpouring of support and positive review from their fans. This was a PR nightmare that was quickly and flawlessly diverted. Taco Bell was not paralyzed by the impending crisis; they fired back at their accuser with a powerful and redeeming campaign and used the attention to shine a positive light on their real “seasoned beef” recipe.
Not every crisis answer has “meat” like Taco Bell’s did. But they replied swiftly, smartly and honestly. And then they moved on. Because they could. Make sure YOU can.