Chewing the Fat Episode 5
Chewing the Fat Episode 5 –Winning with LinkedIn Messaging
Key takeaways: How to Respond in a Crisis
We’ve all become too familiar with crises. Whether it's a war, global health event, social justice movement, or brand controversies, it’s important to know how to respond appropriately and empathetically as an organization.
Many brands (clearly) do not know how to approach marketing in times of crisis. What do you do when you’re the communicator for the organization? How do you respond in a way that will be impactful and heartfelt? This article will cover key considerations for marketers and leaders, along with action steps.
First: understand that no copy (even great copy) will fix a crisis. Ever. In so many painful cases, it will just make it worse. What does work is internal action. Action is:
All of these steps put your brand in the frame of mind of “do” versus “say.” “Say” on its own can pour salt on wounds. People and brands may write about their support, sharing memes or common sentiments about what’s going on. But, there are consequences to doing that without any action to back it up.
There are actions you can take right away during a crisis. First, stop social media. Try not to make a big deal out of something you’re doing for the brand right now. Take a break and wait a month or push it to the next quarter. Pause any launches, or resume product launches silently.
Take a look at any scheduled emails and press pause. You don’t have to delete these campaigns, but just evaluate the messages you’re sending out. Could they appear tone deaf considering the crisis that’s going on? Not pausing can lead to your own internal crisis of trying to back pedal. It is a nightmare that you want to avoid, because there’s not much you can do to fix it once it’s done.
The next part of your approach is to think about how you can lead and market with empathy. One strong example is when Nike ran a “Don’t do it” ad during the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, which was very successful and hit the right tone.
Don’t forget your actions need to be internal. Leaders and managers need to communicate to teams and respond in the right ways to support their people. Communication is critical, especially for those who are working for you.
Just because you have good intentions doesn’t mean your message will be successful.
In the height of the #MeToo movement, Gillette ran an ad that totally bombed. It was a sarcastic take on manliness that turned out to be in very poor taste and was not received well. They were maybe trying to put humor into the situation, but it just didn’t work.
Similarly, McDonald’s released an ad during Black Lives Matter that listed the names of those who had been killed because of gun violence, but it was an example of “say.” There was no action, and the brand didn’t have the best track record of how they treated their employees. They should have taken steps to support their workers instead of posting what was essentially a meme.
We can’t go back to how things were before the pandemic. The world has changed, and your brand messaging needs to as well. You’re not just changing your mission statement or your icon but shifting your brand awareness.
CrossFit got into trouble because of a tone-deaf post. The company’s CEO posted a tweet during Black Lives Matter that said “It’s FLOYD-19” in reference to the death of George Floyd. Backlash included criticism that the company had taken no action to address anti-racism.
During the pandemic, brands were flagged for posting stock imagery of people without masks, out at bars, during a time when everyone was required to wear masks and couldn’t even leave home. Posting those photos wasn’t relevant to the new society. These issues need to be carefully considered when marketing in times of crisis.
There are two buckets of marketing: internal and external. Marketing isn’t just about talking to the rest of the world, but also about improving internal communications and assessing how you’re treating your people.
To reduce turnover and ensure that everyone is on the same page in a crisis, focus on internal communications. Educate people. Marketing and communication should be one and the same in times of distress.
As marketers, we need to be sensitive to sensitivities during uncertain times. Make sure you’re including everyone by focusing on inclusion initiatives. This issue really came to light during Black Lives Matter, but it was also highlighted last year when Asian hate was being discussed in America.
Look at your website and evaluate the images you’re using. Are you seeing a lot of the same skin colors? Does it make your organization look non-diverse? These things have huge impacts on our new society.
It’s wise to establish a diverse response team of people to handle these issues. The team should be diverse in every way — skin color, background, experience, age, gender, etc. It should be reflective of your people, your brand, and what is happening in society. The team should be all-encompassing so you can bring in many different perspectives.
Now, here’s an easy way to cover everything we’ve talked about. This should be your five-step rapid response plan:
Taking these steps will put your organization on the right path when marketing in times of crisis. The next step is making sure everyone understands what to do, when to do it, and why.
Training often gets overlooked in times of crisis. Having a diverse response team and a rapid response plan in place is great, but you need to figure out:
Make training part of the onboarding process and part of your regular programs, whether quarterly or annually. This will keep your values top of mind and ensure everyone stays on the same page.
It’s not easy to know how to respond when marketing in times of crisis. As a brand, your messaging must be appropriate, relevant, and sometimes silent. The most important thing you can do is take internal action.
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Chewing the Fat Episode 5 –Winning with LinkedIn Messaging
Chewing the Fat Episode 4 – Story starts at the top
“You had me at ‘hello.’” - Jerry Maguire (1996)