How to Address a Crisis from Your Brand’s Past

Ronn Torossian
3 min readDec 9, 2023

A brand crisis is like a storm looming on the horizon of a company’s reputation. It can be triggered by various factors, from a product recall to a scandal involving key personnel. What makes a brand crisis particularly challenging is that it often emerges from the past, resurfacing like an unwelcome ghost. However, with careful planning and a strategic approach to brand crisis management, brands can weather the storm and emerge with their reputation intact.

Understanding the nature of a brand crisis

Before diving into crisis management strategies, it’s crucial to understand what a brand crisis is and why it can be so damaging. A brand crisis is any event or series of events that significantly jeopardizes a company’s reputation, integrity, or customer trust.

Product recalls

Issues with product safety, quality, or performance can lead to recalls that tarnish the brand’s image.

Scandals

Scandals involving company executives, employees, or unethical business practices can severely damage the brand’s reputation.

Customer complaints

A history of unresolved customer complaints or negative reviews can create a long-term crisis.

Environmental concerns

If a company has a history of environmental violations or unsustainable practices, it can harm the brand’s image.

Legal issues

Ongoing legal battles or a history of legal problems can raise doubts about the brand’s integrity.

Acknowledging and assessing the crisis

The first step in managing a brand crisis is to acknowledge its existence. Pretending it doesn’t exist or downplaying its significance can worsen the situation. Once the brand recognizes the crisis, the next step is to assess its scope and impact. Identify how it may affect the stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, and the public.

Assembling a crisis management team

A dedicated crisis management team is essential for addressing past brand crises. This team should include individuals from various departments, including public relations, legal, communications, and senior leadership. Their combined expertise can help brands develop a comprehensive crisis management plan.

Developing a crisis communication plan

A crisis communication plan is a playbook for addressing the crisis from the brand’s past. It should outline key messages, spokespersons, communication channels, and a timeline for responses. Consider how the brand will communicate with various stakeholders and the media.

Transparency and accountability

Transparency is crucial in crisis management. Take ownership of any mistakes or shortcomings from the past, and communicate the brand’s commitment to resolving the issues. Be prepared to answer tough questions and address concerns honestly.

Apologizing and making amends

If the brand crisis resulted from wrongdoing or negligence, a sincere apology is necessary. Take responsibility for any harm caused and outline concrete steps to make amends. This might involve compensation, recalls, or corrective actions.

Monitoring and engaging on social media

In today’s digital age, social media plays a significant role in brand crisis management. Monitor social media platforms for mentions and engage with concerned customers and stakeholders. Address questions and concerns promptly and professionally.

Seeking legal counsel

If legal issues are involved, consult with the legal team to understand the potential legal implications and liabilities. Ensure that the brand’s actions and statements align with legal requirements.

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Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is Chairman & Founder of 5WPR, one of America’s leading & largest PR Agencies and the Author of the best-selling PR book: "For Immediate Release"