We’re going to start this article off with a metaphor- bear with us. Imagine your business as a home. You poured it’s foundation, and laid each brick piece by piece. You probably had some help along the way, but you can proudly call this home yours.
Unfortunately, no matter how strong the foundation, a tornado of public opinion can sweep away all your effort in an instant unless you’re properly prepared. Here’s how to use content as damage control and successfully weather the (metaphorical) storm.
What Does “Damage Control” Really Mean?
Honestly, it depends on whether you’re a marketer or a business owner. Damage control for businesses and brands can manifest in myriad ways, such as:
- Responding to negative Facebook reviews
- Issuing a press release to explain a recall
- Publishing an article to address rumors
There’s an infinite number of methods you could use to perform damage control, but online content is almost certainly going to be your platform to communicate with the injured party. Unless you’re still sending paper memos around the office, that is.
While damage control for a marketing agency can be similar, you’re far more likely to be dealing with a single disgruntled client than with a crowd of disappointed consumers. That may seem less intimidating at first, but this client is significantly more invested in your work, and constitutes a much larger percentage of your business.
You need to be prepared to handle criticism and address any questions/concerns your clients may have as quickly as possible. The longer you wait, the more time a client has to think that you don’t care about their business. Of course, we know this isn’t true. You’re just swamped with tons of work and don’t have the time to address difficult questions like:
- “You don’t care actually about our clients, do you?”
- “It’s been three months, why aren’t our numbers improving?”
- “Where are all these leads you promised me?”
These are serious inquiries, and the person on the other side of the computer wants an honest, satisfactory, and prompt answer from you. An ungraceful response can lose you more than one client, as the damage to your agency’s rep will sting for years to come.
In a perfect world, there’d be no need for damage control, as we’d all be on top of our business 24/7… but we all know that’s not the case. The best solution is to plan ahead. Build your business upon pillars of transparency, honesty, and clarity.
If your clients, whether they’re businesses or consumers, know they can find answers on your blog, newsletter, or press release, then they’ll be more understanding when you make a mistake. That’s why the solution is the same for both sides: tell your story.
Creating Your Damage Control Net Through Content
There’s an age old saying- an apple a day keeps the doctor away. While that may not be entirely true for your physical health, it’s absolutely applicable to damage control. The more work you put into prevention and preparation, the better you can handle a PR crisis.
The first step is to establish yourself as a trusted voice in your given industry. Luckily, digital marketing strategies are planned to do exactly this. You can use well-established practices like:
- Creating and sharing valuable content
- Engaging with customers to create brand loyalty
- Contributing to LinkedIn’s industry pages
As time passes, you’ll prove yourself as a consistent and reliable member of your business community, whether that’s digital marketing, fitness, or pizza delivery.
Of course, mistakes and misfortune can strike at any moment. The most important thing isn’t how established you are as a brand, but being honest and straightforward when things go south. Don’t let anyone air your dirty laundry, be the first to break bad news.
Once you’ve come clean, it’s time to clear the air. Go to the comment sections or open your inbox and directly address questions/comments/concerns. This is your chance to engage with clients- it may not be in the best of circumstances, but it’s invaluable for your reputation.
If you’re interested in how to handle damage control, or just want to talk shop, get in touch. At FEAD MEdia, we want to be on the same page as our clients as much as possible. After all, we’re just storytellers- it’s your brand and your story.