Is there anything you can do to survive online crises with your brand?
The short answer is; yes use the Internet!
The longer answer is having a plan and understanding that all brands even the biggest are vulnerable, brands like Dell and Wal-Mart know that well.
The first thing you need to do is to show humility, the Internet has a mind on its own and the only thing you can do is to have a plan and deal with it the best you can by being prepared.
A part of the plan should always be listening, have your eyes and ears open to the buzz out there. The Internet is the main venue for dejected customers and in most cases the brand owner does not have a clue on what is happening. Forums and blogs are being opened everyday and some with the sole purpose of writing “bad things” about product in behalf of unhappy customers.
So what happens when you find something that is not to your liking, true or untrue?
Deal with it; take it on without a delay. One of the best ways to solve most of brand attacks is to respond promptly and head on, go to the source. Remember that the very same costumer that wrote the complaint is waiting for your reaction and I have had cases where by talking directly to the blog/forum owner he removed the post and it was out of Google two weeks later, problem gone. In this case it was a typical story that could have spiraled and gone out of control.
But is it this simple? No not quite! But the only thing I have to say that is “be ready”, have an online crisis management plan in place. A plan that answers at least the following questions:
1. What do you do when some talks about your brand in a negative manner?
2. How do you push down negative pages out of the search engines
3. When you have dealt with the situation, will you communication channels open?
4. Monitor the activates on your own site, who is returning you traffic and why, are you using web analytics?
The adult industry versus Radisson SAS Iceland
One of my favorite cases where a decision on one site of the globe can affect something on the other side is the “Radisson SAS Iceland versus the European Adult conference Case”, long title on short story that goes like this. Two years back, the European Association of the Adult Industry in Europe (not fully sure of the name) was going to have their annual conference in Iceland, the topic? I am guessing, the Adult Industry in Europe. So few weeks before the event was going to take place, there rose an political issue on this in Iceland, we did not want to get a bunch of naked people to our small country and under pressure the Radisson SAS hotel management in Iceland cancelled and guess what it hit the media and for some two or three weeks if you Googeled Radisson SAS or phrases like adult entertainment or adult conference Radisson SAS and the Adult conference story came up.
This story as such was not such a problem, but the problem as I saw it was twofold:
1. They where opening a new hotel in Bahrain or Dubai at the same time, so when the travel reporter that wanted to write about the new hotel he found little but some adult conference problems in Iceland through Google News and knowing reporters this could pose a huge proplem. Even know Radisson will be connected with the adult industry through this post and will come up under some adult related search phrases at Google Blog and you might be here and reading this article because you got a Google Blog og Web Alert.
2. The there is the linking, if I remember correctly only handful of the sites picked this story up (15 – 20) and some other sites had their RSS-feeds but all in all around 30 sites had some information on this topic, but most based it on two or three original articles. So here is what I feared, imagine this story being picked up massively, by thousands of sites and all of the having a link to Radisson SAS front page with the phrase “adult conference” – Everybody that has even the most basic understanding of link-building will tell you that such scenario would be bad.
So start creating your online credibility, when you need it might be too late.
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