Why is Proactive Crisis Communication Crucial for a Brand's Image?


    Why is Proactive Crisis Communication Crucial for a Brand's Image?

    In the face of a crisis, the ability to communicate effectively can make or break a brand's image. We've gathered insights from communications directors, among others, on the importance of proactive crisis communication. From maintaining positive media relations to demonstrating commitment through voluntary recalls, explore the five pivotal experiences shared by these professionals.

    • Maintain Positive Media Relations
    • Align Crisis Plan with Marketing
    • Dispute Claims with Transparency
    • Proactive Customer Communication
    • Voluntary Recall Demonstrates Commitment

    Maintain Positive Media Relations

    Gaining positive news coverage year-round about your organization is priceless. Someday, when bad news happens—and it always will—the viewers and readers of your news media outlets will learn that someone in your organization caused a concern or allegedly did something wrong. But if you've been consistently gaining positive news, educating your public about your great work underway year-round, it helps tremendously.

    When your public and your reporters already have a positive opinion about your work, your team, your organization, it makes a difference. On our one bad news day, I reached out to all media contacts, even though I didn't know what I could or couldn't say at that point. I at least let them know I was working on a response for them, and I did get them all the info I could as soon as I could. When they had misinformation from other sources, I let them know. Because they communicate with me multiple times per year on other stories, they were very open to listen to me and wait for my response. They did not cover the misinformation that was negative.

    Susan Thomascommunications director

    Align Crisis Plan with Marketing

    Communicating in times of crisis is an opportunity for your organization to truly show the world (internal and external) its real personality and commitment. The organization is being judged for its reaction time, style of reaction, tone of reaction, and credibility. This is something you plan for and practice to be ready for.

    One experience where proactive crisis communication was crucial for our brand's image was coming into the spring 2022 season. Like many other post-COVID markets in Canada, housing inventory was scarce, Halifax was the second-fastest growing city in Canada, and affordability was a problem.

    All that to say, market conditions and the public's image of REALTORS® was not ideal. The public believed that REALTORS® didn't have to do much work to make a lot of money and were 'raking it in.' In reality, the majority of REALTORS® were feeling heartbroken for their clients as they would be outbid. REALTORS® were finding themselves having to prepare 4-6 offers for each client in an attempt to get a home for their client.

    So, we implemented a 'crisis' communication plan which aligned with our paid marketing campaign within the province which would highlight the value of REALTORS® as a trusted guide to home buying and selling, while demonstrating their expertise and commitment to Nova Scotians and their homes.

    We did this with:


    - Extending in-market presence to build trust with audiences.


    These messages were also shared with staff, and they were briefed on market conditions and some of the reputation damage the market was causing REALTORS®.

    The implementation plan included:

    - Interviews with media conducted by our President, who was also a REALTOR®, using the approach that we would prefer to control the narrative.

    - Marketing on YouTube, digital, radio, out-of-home, and paid search showcasing the care and concern REALTORS® use with their clients to find a suitable home. We also conveyed the message that REALTORS® are part of their communities and know the people, resources, and services to support a homebuyer or seller.

    This strategy resulted in 32 media interviews with local and national media. The 2022 Search campaign ended with impressive results, seeing a CTR that is 754% higher than the 2% industry benchmark.

    tanya whiteDirector of Communications

    Dispute Claims with Transparency

    I once worked with a company subject to a bear raid. An anonymous group had taken short positions in the stock, which had achieved a high valuation, and then published articles and conducted interviews to drive the stock price down. Happily, the accusations were based on misframings, innuendo, and even a few fake websites. We chose an aggressive strategy wherein we disputed each claim via 8-K and press release as they were made. We also sought out interviews with the reporters who had published the claims to demonstrate the ways they had been misled. This lessened the shorts' ability to place tips whenever they needed the stock price to go down and protected the valuation (the shorts got squeezed).

    Janine McCargo
    Janine McCargoPrincipal, McCargo Mission-Aligned Communications

    Proactive Customer Communication

    We at Ubuy had an issue late last night that caused some customer orders to fail. We didn't wait for complaints because we knew a problematic customer was a disappointed customer. We emailed everyone affected, explaining the problem and suggesting a solution. We also presented a discount code as a 'mea culpa' (a fancy way of saying 'our bad'). By being honest, we can inform people, avoid the social media firestorm, and turn a difficult situation into an opportunity to show that we care.

    Faizan Khan
    Faizan KhanPublic Relations and Content Marketing Specialist, Ubuy Australia

    Voluntary Recall Demonstrates Commitment

    As the owner of Festoon House, we pride ourselves on providing quality and durable lighting. However, there was an incident a few years ago that really tested our brand’s image and our ability to communicate proactively.

    It started when we launched a new line of outdoor lighting products. Shortly after that, we began receiving customer feedback about a particular model malfunctioning in certain weather conditions. We realized that if not addressed immediately, this could potentially harm our brand’s reputation for quality and durability.

    We then decided to take a proactive approach. Before the issue could escalate and reach the wider public, we issued a voluntary recall of the affected model. We communicated this through all our channels - email, social media, and press releases. We made sure to explain the situation in detail, including the nature of the malfunction, the conditions under which it occurred, and most importantly, the steps we were taking to rectify the issue.

    In the following weeks, we worked tirelessly to not only fix the malfunction but also to replace the faulty units at no additional cost. We kept our customers updated throughout the process, ensuring they knew we were doing everything we could to resolve the issue quickly and efficiently.

    Looking back, I believe our proactive approach to crisis communication was crucial in maintaining our brand’s image. By addressing the issue head-on and keeping our customers informed every step of the way, we demonstrated our commitment to quality and customer satisfaction. This experience reinforced the importance of transparency and open communication in protecting a brand’s image during a crisis. It was a challenging time, but it ultimately strengthened our relationship with our customers and our position in the market.

    Matt Little
    Matt LittleDirector & Entrepreneur, Festoon House