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How To Be Prepared When Crisis Hits Your Brand

I was surprised this morning when one of the top headlines to hit my iPhone said was “Arizona Part of Kotex Tampon Recall.” Clicking through, I discovered Kotex, a popular feminine products brand from parent company Kimberly-Clark, recalled 1,400 cases of tampons over possible bacterial infection. The brand is most recently known for the launch of its trendy tampon designs, called U by Kotex.

A press release issued by Kimberly-Clark on Nov. 9 (just a week after the last batch of the bad product shipped) spelled out the facts and asked impacted stores to remove the product from shelves, it also recommended that consumers who used the specific product “contact a physician immediately.” Lucky for Kimberly-Clark, no reports of infection have been filed yet, but the brand’s quick response and acceptance of responsibility (despite the fact that the plastic tubing that carried the bacteria came from an outside, unnamed supplier) was the best possible move. I have no doubt that Kimberly-Clark has a serious crisis communication plan that they put into action the minute they realized the issue.

Planning for a crisis is not a picnic by anyone’s standards. Regardless of if your company is Kimberly-Clark-sized or is a small start-up, you need a crisis communications plan pronto. Every industry is at risk for a disaster: consumer products, real estate, software/technology companies, restaurants, car companies, attorneys, accountants, and of course, marketing firms. A large part of your crisis communication plan relates to media relations and social media, and when you plan for the worst, you set yourself or your brand up for success through any crisis situation.

At Serendipit, we firmly believe a few things when responding to a crisis situation:

  1. Have a pre-identified company spokesperson for all crisis situations. When you have one key person who is in charge of delivering all responses, you minimize the risk of mixed messages.
  2. “No Comment” is never OK. There are plenty of other alternatives. If you truly don’t know the answer to a question, don’t pretend to! Tell the reporter that you will get the information and get back to them ASAP. Then, do just that.
  3. Stick to your talking points – the facts. There is no need to give more information than is requested or to respond to “what if’s.”
  4. There is no such thing as “Off The Record.” Always assume that everything you say (and post on social media, especially your personal accounts) is public information, because it is.
  5. Be proactive. Take responsibility if necessary, and get your version of the story out first before a news outlet picks up on it. When you start the story at the source, you have far more control over it.

Boy Scout or not: Be Prepared!

Feel free to reach out to us @serendipit or @melissapr for more information or for help with your brand’s crisis communication plan.

-Written by Melissa DiGianfilippo, partner & VP of PR

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