How do you manage your business if you get hit by some scandal that threatens the continued existence of your business? For instance, do you remember some years ago when the company producing Indomie Instant Noodles was allegedly dragged to court after some school kids allegedly ate Indomie Noodles and allegedly died from eating it? Today, the company is still waxing stronger but how did they manage the bad publicity generated from the ugly incidents? Would you also remember a time that Procter & Gamble faced a lot of damaging scandals in the United States and alleged to be a satanic organization because their logo is crescent-shaped? How did they manage the bad image to make them stronger today? Even Shell and Chevron had suffered bad images over their oil-spilling activities that poison rivers and damage farmlands in the Niger-Delta region, how do they manage their soiled business reputation to come out stronger?
Any of these could happen to your business, and the far-reaching effects could cripple and practically bring a very successful business organization to a noisy halt. In fact, most of your competitors would seize on the bad image you suddenly suffer to inflict more damage on your brands and services in order to promote their products as the next best alternative. How can you manage bad public image as a result of some unfortunate event, without virtually driving more nails to your business coffin? Your first reaction might be to come out blazing and shouting that the business allegation is not true and blah-blah-blah, but there are more professional ways to handle bad business reputations.
a. Invite a corporate reputation management firm. This team of reputation experts alongside your own PR unit must seek to identify the veracity of the claims, assess extents of damage done on the company and on the victims/plaintiffs, and seek to eradicate the source of the troubles. For instance, if a customer suffers poisoning from consuming a particular brand of a product, the corporate firm must establish the batch of products that contain the poisoning and withdraw them all from the market (GM Motors recently withdrew about 38,000 brand of a car globally when a technical fault was discovered in its making).
b. Quality Control. You must then identify the poisoned or bad products from the identified batch retrieved from the market, and determine how this damage came to be. Could it be due to lack of quality control checks? You must then destroy all the identified batch and “make a public show of it.” While this might amount to an admittance of responsibility, your professional team should advice on the corporate and legal implications of admitting faults…or proving otherwise. Meanwhile, you must formulate strict regulatory controls and rules for quality controls, and you might carry the media along.
c. Marketing/Rebranding campaigns. You must then embark on full marketing campaign to rebrand your products/services alongside effective Public Relations efforts to win back the confidence of the public. You might repackage the product or services and employ PR messages to drive home the points that you’ve taken necessary steps to remedy the situation. Your best bet is not vehemently denying anything, but taking systematic steps to enlighten the public on what happened and steps you’ve taken to make things right again. This is the best PR method to manage bad business reputation and image, until you are able to win back public confidence through articulated social responsibility campaigns.