Annual look at how crisis hurts


Other than President Trump, who seems to thrive by crisis, the annual look at how crises hurt brands is out and it reinforces why companies need to be prepared and deal with a crisis openly and effectively.

Or else.

Thanks to the ever well-read Eric Mower, we have Ad Week’s report on a compendium of brand winners and losers on this score in 2016.

The losers? You might have guessed: Chipotle, Wells Fargo, Samsung, Trump Taj Mahal, and Wells Fargo Advisors. That has to be the first time one company scored worst for two brands. The bank, of course, was the center of an enormous controversy involving bank salespeople opening accounts for customers without their permission. The CEO was canned. Congress got involved. Bad juju.

Samsung had exploding phones; Chipotle served contaminated food; and Trump’s brands are under assault all over.

Here are the top 10 improving brands — counted no doubt prior to Uber’s latest mess that broke last weekend.

The scores come from polling by YouGov of 1.2 million people about 1,500 brands.

Generated by social media and picked up by legacy media, the good and the bad support or kill brands. Especially in the consumer sector, where competition abounds, the issues plaguing the hurt brands mean consumers just go elsewhere. Why eat at Chipotle and risk illness? I’ll go to McDonald’s or BK or a local diner. Don’t need a Galaxy Note 7 when I can get an iPhone or some other smartphone. And banks? There’s one on every corner.

And, as is true of most companies hit by a crisis, bad news hurts more than good news helps. Consumers expect Uber to be on time; they shop at Amazon because it delivers on its promises; it loves Nike because it’s so smart and cool. And so on.

But when a brand tanks, it takes dramatic, long-term remediation. Look at Domino’s Pizza, which ran a campaign saying its pizza was terrible and it was committed to improving it. Subway’s reputation still hasn’t bounced back from the Jared scandal. And the list goes on.

Here are the Top 10 highest rated brands:

Even these must expect a crisis. Have a plan for dealing with it. Communicate that plan internally. Make sure to take responsibility, apologize, fix the problem and commit to improvement.

Or, get on the list of the Bad Five.

The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Senior Vice President/Managing Director of Public Affairs and Crisis and Reputation Management at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with eight offices in the East. Learn more about EMA at mowerpr.com/crisisready. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.

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About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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