When your brand (including a personal one) is going through a crisis, logic is the last thing you need to resort to. On the example of Hollywood stars, we see that such a basic principle as a confession of guilt is applied everywhere. And in some sense, it helps even in a specific context, which does not imply forgiveness.
I have already described the way the mechanism of trust works in terms of evolutionary psychology. Trust is our unconscious work for society in order to increase our own chances of survival, help, and, most importantly, offspring reproduction.
The desire of payback for betraying trust and violating the rules established in society is the reverse side of trust. It is very important for understanding not only in the context of PR and the renewal of trust in the brand, but just for everyday life as well.
When building a strategy to resume trust in a brand, one should not resort to logic, but to this cognitive bias underlying the society construction.
When reorganizing trust, we must understand the following things:
1. The real reason. What has actually led to the crisis? For often saying one thing, we mean something quite different (without even thinking about it).
Was sexual harassment the main reason for accusations of Hollywood actors and producers? After all, many outside the US (and even in the US itself) do not understand the attitude (including the emotional one) to sex inside Hollywood.
In most harassment charges, we are confronted with violation of the principle of trust. Not getting the proper return, people begin to feel deceived; for their unconscious mind, this situation is a signal for revenge, where the logical approach is completely absent.
This is a simple example demonstrating the importance of defining a real problem. What is the sense of spending energy and money on the struggle with the reason that isn’t real?
2. Brain functioning. Before building a PR strategy, you need to make sure that you understand, as a minimum, the implementation of the decision-making process, the somatic marker hypothesis, the emotional memory functioning.
For these and many other factors which our brand perception is based on are the key to a successful solution of the problem. It is always easier to admit that you know everything, but an extra mistake in correcting the situation will cost much more.
3. The presence of enemies. Often, behind the crisis situation associated with your brand there can be the interests of third parties and companies. This can be both ordinary competitors, and the people who want to deal away personally with you or with someone from the staff.
Most likely, you may be quite unaware of a particular enemy’s presence. Let’s say your employee was rude to the client, was mistaken, or anything, really. The client automatically and unconsciously starts plotting his/her revenge. That is our evolutionary feature.
The client will want to take revenge on not just a specific employee, but on the whole company. For a person who has experienced negative emotions, your employee is a direct part of the company.
If you do not nip such crisis situations in the bud, one day at the worst possible time, they can finish you off. By involving empathy, they are quite easily defused, and your employees can be trained to do this.
Spokes in the wheels do not contribute to the speed of the problem solution. Of course, a lot depends on the corporate culture inside the competing company. In some companies, it is quite normal to allow yourself to be frankly mean with regard to a competitor, and even to receive encouragement for this.
If your competitors are fully aware of the information from the previous paragraph, there will be attempts to hit on your sore spot. But it should not be a surprise for you. On the contrary, you’ve got to have a ready anti-crisis plan at hand. If you are aware of the problem, you obligatory must be prepared to address it.
So, what is to be done?
1. Address the situation honestly. Put maximally aside the elements raising an emotional degree. Often, we see crisis situations mixed with strong emotions, which are mingled with the basic principle of our existence—the reproductive function.
The more significantly you influence it, the more rebuff you can get. What can most negatively affect the reproductive function? A threat to life and a threat to status. In both cases, the probability of offspring reproduction and the likelihood of its survival in a healthy form are reduced.
Do not think that it is difficult. For example, I’ve derived for myself a three-level approach, which I use successfully in most cases. However, if you want to take into account all the factors of influence, you can use a more fundamental nine-level approach.
Without such factors of influence, the situation can be extremely simple. Knowing the real reason and the factors that fuel it, you are able to build a strategy that will isolate the emotional component.
2. Apologize. A simple apology can save the situation. This topic is quite well studied. For example, there have been conducted experiments in the health-care context. An ordinary apology and recognition of a mistake radically change the way patients perceive the doctors, as well as patients’ trust in them.
If there is your guilt, admit it. However, often we see excessive use of apologies, which only worsens the situation. A simple rule: apologize loudly, but once.
To apologize is not to demean yourself. On the contrary, a well-designed long-term strategy will not only renew trust in your brand, but will even work in your favor. Nevertheless, this ceases to work if crisis situations and apologies keep occurring over and over again.
3. Correct yourself. Do everything possible to prevent a recurrence of the situation, but instead, use it for improving yourself. Any problem is an opportunity. Recall the exploding batteries in Samsung Galaxy Note 7. The company spared no effort to fix the issue.
Do not let the problem destroy you. If you do not bring the situation to the point of absurdity, you can restore trust in your brand even by following simple logical steps in accordance with the strategy described above.
If you want to receive a detailed consultation, develop a personalized strategy, and get help with its application, write to an Email firstname.lastname@example.org. We respond within 24 hours.
Leon The Alien
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Images: Paul Bence, Fernando Paredes Murillo, Giphy