Tag Archives: Crisis Management

What South Carolina can teach us about crisis management

I avoid writing politics on this blog, I will admit that I had a political blog a few years back and it became too much of burden to keep up. I also felt that to do it properly I needed to research and be much more attentive to the blog. But this post will not be about politics but more about some lessons we can learn, for business and marketing, from what has happened in the Republican primary in South Carolina.  As of this writing it would appear that Newt Gingrich pulled off what, a week ago, would have appeared as impossible. What can be attributed to this swing? To me it is how the two candidates handled what I would call crisis management.

Let’s look at the front runner Willard Romney. His crisis revolved around his releasing of his tax records as well as the attacks on his time running Bain Capital. Newt flashed some brilliance in releasing years of tax returns the morning of a debate, knowing full well the question would be posed to Willard. Romney, when asked if he would do as did his father and release 12 years of returns, uttered “Maybe” as his first word…then laughed and gave some confusing answer that wasn’t really an answer. This go him a round of boos from the audience. During the week he also answered a question about his tax percentage with some cryptic response and even had the audacity of saying “oh and some speaker fees…which weren’t very much.” I guess when those add up to close to $400k those are not seen as “very much.”   Just for perspective, the median national household income for 2010 was $50,000.

On the other hand, Newt Gingrich had his own crisis, specifically a bomb shell interview from his second wife about his moral compass. How did Newt deal with it? Head on. When asked this as an opening question he tore right into it, attacking the “liberal media,” Obama, CNN and those that wanted to see him fail in one swoop. He took a negative and turned it into a soap box to give his southern Republicans some red meat to chew on – look at the standing ovations.

Two different ways of handling what were difficult situations, and two apparent different results. Just like in a crisis – poor corporate results, scandal, hostile acquisition, executive turn over to name a few – one has to get ahead of the message. One must be aggressive in sharing information, because there is no hiding in today’s connected world. One cannot always hope for the results Newt enjoyed, but one certainly can avoid the gaffs from Mitt.

Sometimes the light of day makes events appear less important than when constantly trying to dodge the issue and appear evasive.

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Do you need to have a social marketing strategy? Ask Apple.

Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Blogosphere, MySpace, Foursquare, Flickr etc…our personal lives and professional lives have been inundated with Social Media tools. Many of these started as personal tools to communicate and share our lives via the world wide web. Of course it always surprises me that corporations still wonder whether or not they should have a social marketing strategy…it reminds me of the late 1990s when many companies wondered “should we have a web site?” In a past life I recall speaking with some large retailers who would tell my employer “we do not need a web site, we have stores and a catalog!” Oops. Today is there ever any questioning whether or not your company needs a web site? The question today is how many web sites a corporation should have, not whether or not one is necessary.

So we are in a similar situation today. Should every company have a social marketing strategy. Yes. Does it mean you will turn over all your marketing to Facebook and Twitter…No. However your marketing organization, must at least, have the system in place to monitor what is being said about your business and company in cyberspace.  A great example of this is what is currently happening to Apple.

I am sure that we are all aware of the launch of the Apply iPhone 4, which was met with the expect hoopla and fans sleeping out at Apple stores to get their hands on the sleek $300 smart phone. After the launch of the iPad earlier this year the new iPhone was seen as another huge success for Apple. Apple did appear to get a small stock price bump post iPhone launch and pundits were lauding the new device. We then started to get the follow on ads about the ability to video conference with other iPhone 4 users.

This was all fantastic until…there was some rumblings on Twitter and the Blogosphere that the new iPhone was not so hot when it came to cell reception…hmm sounds like my Blackberry. The “smoking gun” came from the Consumer Report blog that came out and stated:

The signal problem is the reason that we did not cite the iPhone 4 as a “recommended” model…

Ouch. This news spread like wild fire via Twitter and other social media tools. Even Guy Kawasaki, former Apple fellow put the update on his Twitter account. So what does this have to do with Apple and social media strategy?

First, Apple responded to the first murmurs in a traditional fashion. Putting out a statement that it was a software issue and that AT&T was to blame. Of course that turned out to not be the case, as Consumer Reports demonstrated. So now Apple is on the defensive. But all is not lost. Some thoughts on how Apple can leverage Social Marketing and why every company needs to learn from this situation.

  • First, fix the problem with the iPhone 4…
  • Identify some key voices in the Blogosphere that are influential when it comes to technology, mobile technology, etc. Hopefully Apple already has a relationship with some of these pundits, now is the time to leverage them. Send these bloggers the fixed version of the iPhone 4, ask them to test the device. Maybe even send them an iPhone 3Gs, take both for a test see if there is any major difference in quality. Directly address what the Consumer Digest Blog stated.
  • Rather than releasing an open letter, post on your corporate blog what you are doing to fix the problem. Allow current users to openly ask questions about potential returns and exchanges.
  • Once the iPhone is fixed – create some YouTube videos with actual users…maybe have them use the video conferencing functionality of the iPhone 4 to create the videos.  Hey maybe send a new iPhone 4 to the Consumer Reports bloggers and have them do a video conference!

Apple can leverage social media to ensure they demonstrate to the market they are addressing the problems and what they are doing about it. Use your fanatically loyal users to be the ones touting the fixes of the iPhone. Apple is a great marketing machine they need to leverage this marketing muscle and their social marketing strategy to address the issues with the iPhone.

Is your company ready to leverage social media for crisis management?

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