How To Fix Bad Press In 3 Easy Steps

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We’ve all been in a situation where an employee delivered terrible customer service or your CEO blurted a stupid comment to the press. What separates the brands that survive and the ones that don’t is their response to bad press, especially in this fast-paced digital/social media age where 24 hours can make or break you. How do you put a lock on the situation to keep the public trust and your brand credibility (and resulting profits) from crumbling further?

Own Up To Your Mistakes Publicly

Back in 2009, two Domino’s Pizza employees thought it would be a hilarious idea to film themselves sticking cheese up their nose before putting it on a sandwich, spitting in food, and doing other unsanitary acts. Two days after it was posted on YouTube, it garnered more than a million views, and references to the video were in five out of 12 results on the first page of a Google search to Domino’s.

Twitter blew up on the incident and Domino’s was left wondering how they could gain back their customers’ trust. First, they posted an apology on their corporate website, and asked employees with Twitter accounts to link to it. Next, they created an official Twitter account @dpzinfo to reassure the public that the video was an isolated incident. They even had their USA president, Patrick Doyle apologize on YouTube.

Acknowledge What You Do Stand For

Domino’s Pizza USA President Patrick Doyle immediately thanked the online community for finding the video and tracking the store and its culprits down. He outlined steps about how they repaired the situation: firing the miscreants, sanitizing the store, and reexamining their hiring practices. He reaffirmed that Domino’s cares about food safety, clean stores, and producing high quality food.

Have An Emergency Plan

When a crisis happens, you definitely want to respond quickly. Domino’s took 48 hours to issue an official response on social media, although they had been alerted of the situation much earlier. Always be prepared with social media monitoring to gather positive press, but more importantly, to hunt down and respond to any negative feedback surrounding your brand. Have a crisis communications team work with your executives to identify and troubleshoot negative situations.

People can forgive a brand that will own up to their mistakes, take public steps to fix the situation (and improve it), and show that they really do care about their customers. If you ignore the situation, minimize it, or seem inauthentic (e.g. doing the ole “sorry you were offended” rather than “I’m sorry, this is wrong”), the haters of your brand will multiply, and your credibility will fade.

Written by Courtney Lee

Need help with your crisis communications plan? Contact us.

The Must List: The 5 Best Articles We Read This Week

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Every day, we learn something new, gain insight, question the status quo or have a nice chuckle, thanks to so many articles out there on the Interwebz and beyond. Here’s our 5 favorite, must-read articles of the week:

SearchEngineLand founder Danny Sullivan posted this thoughtful analysis of Gigaom’s unfortunate demise with little hand-wringing or absurd speculation (like in a recent horrid Forbes bylined article that we won’t click to, but that claimed Gigaom failed because it was too ethical).

Nitasha Tiku is one of the best writers on Silicon Valley happenings (and we miss her at Valleywag). Of course she’d have a great piece on the Ellen Pao/Kleiner Perkins sexual harassment trial that has everyone in Silicon Valley at attention.

Want to know how to piss off a bunch of rich, powerful men? Just be Kevin Roose and write a fascinating article on why venture capital firms investing in their own startups is unethical! Whether you agree with Roose or not, he raises interesting questions and fuels a conversation that the tech industry should be having.

How do you get someone to read your article or blog post? Inc’s Larry Kim has the ultimate guide to writing click-worthy titles.

And finally, how could we not include Advertising Age’s Tim Peterson’s article on the acquisition of our client, Threshold Interactive, by Zealot Networks? Sure, we’re biased but it’s a mighty fine article that showcases Zealot’s bold vision.



Today Is A Good Day: Threshold Interactive Acquired by Zealot Networks

Our reaction to today's news
Our reaction to today’s news

Change Communications proudly congratulates our client Threshold Interactive on being acquired by former Maker Studios co-founder Danny Zappin’s Zealot Networks! Threshold has been recognized for their kickass work for brands including Butterfinger and Hot Pockets, and their creativity clearly caught Zealot’s eye. Just watch their hilarious video for Hot Pockets with Kate Upton and Snoop Dogg for further evidence.

As a small powerhouse, Threshold’s goal has been to grow, and this acquisition achieves that. However, Threshold has not forgotten what makes them so dynamic. Threshold’s CEO John Montgomery told AdAge “The first thing I tell clients is Threshold’s not changing, what this does is it makes us a much more powerful marketing partner for them. Now we’re plugged into the Zealot network, and our level of relationships [and] the tools and talent that we have to plug into from Zealot is a perfect complement to what we already do very well.”

We’ve had the pleasure of working with Threshold since 2012, and we’ve seen them earn success and recognition for their talent, including winning the AdAge Small Agency of the Year award in 2013, and cross their ten-year anniversary milestone last year. We look forward to toasting the next ten years with Threshold and Zealot. Read the rest of today’s news on AdAge.

Influencer Marketing 101

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Influencer marketing has become a ubiquitous tactic that most brands want integrated into their PR or marketing strategy. It sounds simple enough – go after influential people in your brand’s industry and get them to spout niceties about your brand. Easy, right? Not quite. It takes a lot more than “hey, let’s get Ariana Grande to tweet about our blackhead remover!” in a brainstorm session.

Show Me the Money

Before you even start the brainstorming, make sure you have the budget (either for sponsorships or free product) to offer influencers. Relationships are based on mutual exchange. Respect an influencer’s social network by offering them something of value, like diapers/formula to a mommy blogger or free makeup samples to a beauty vlogger. You can’t get something for nothing.

Who Are You Selling To?

The next step is to know who your target audience is. If you sell adult diapers, Kim Kardashian isn’t going to be the right influencer for you. Don’t just shoe-horn in the most popular celebrity, and don’t just target celebrities. Once you’ve identified your target audience, find out where they live online. Is it Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram? A quick search on those platforms targeting your brand’s keywords should tell you who the best influencers are. There are also plenty of paid services and networks that operate like talent agencies that can connect your brand to the right influencers so this is assuming that this experiment is a micro-budgeted DIY operation.

Now What Did I Get For All Of That?

Influencer marketing, like all things social media, is difficult to measure. If an influencer tweets about your business, and that tweet gets 5,000 retweets and 10,000 favorites, but you don’t see a spike in your business in the next month or two, how successful was that tweet for you? It all depends on what your goal is. If it’s brand awareness, then you’ve achieved that. If it’s a spike in sales, then re-strategize and investigate why that tweet didn’t generate what you wanted. Compare your social media metrics to your web traffic, and measure whether anything actionable is happening. It’s important to understand that influencer marketing is just one part of brand building and it all takes time to build toward the desirable outcome.

Don’t Forget Who Butters Your Bread

Your best influencers already exist – they are your customers. A customer’s stunningly ecstatic or depressingly negative endorsement of your product can lead to a domino effect among their connections. Make sure that you’re responsive in terms of social media engagement with your customers, and you’re treating your customers right.

Don’t Let The Numbers Fool You

Often, there’s far too much premium placed on the number of followers someone has. Let’s not forget that followers can easily be bought (which we wrote about here). Aim for true impact and engagement rather than the person with 10,000 (bot) followers. There’s too many services out there that lets you buy followers, and too many early adopters of platforms who quickly amassed followers.

Say “Thank You” 

Reward your influencers- thank them, retweet them, promote what they’re promoting, scratch their back. The key to influencer marketing is to maintain that influencer relationship, and show them that you care. When you have happy influencers/customers, they’ll be overjoyed to share their enthusiasm about your product and brand. Case in point: Zappos, who has gotten rave reviews on their exceptional customer service and overnight delivery. As the saying goes, “happy wife equals happy life.” Keep your key influencers happy, and they’ll be sure to tell their connections that you’re a brand worth their money, energy and time.

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