There is an ... lesson ... can learn from the various episodes of crisis ... the history of ... negative ... can actually boost your ... and thus, ... imag
There is an inspiring lesson marketers can learn from the various episodes of crisis throughout the history of business: negative publicity can actually boost your credibility and thus, corporate image and brand; elegantly admit mistakes and claim full responsibilities for the consequences.
This notion might be contrary to the basic role of PR and marketing - to tweak public perception to spawn a constructive image of how the company is doing. Still, the virtue of honesty and sincerity is one of the core moral values of our society, and - believe it or not -- elegantly admitting our own mistakes actually wins us others sympathy and respect.
In a similar vein, such ploy commands a greater deal of respect than the typical corporate image-building tactics like community development or finding cure for a deadly disease. Companies already enjoying first-rate reputation reinforce their positive image, while those stuck with poor public perception actually confirm that sincerity is one of their overlooked, yet desirable qualities.
For starters, remember that too much of a good thing can actually do us more harm than good. Overtime, anyone sane enough to understand the nitty-gritty of corporate world is going to wonder how your company manages to go through the tribulations virtually unscathed. After all, such ups and downs as mismanagement, employee misconduct, and labor unrest to name a few, have always been an integral part of corporate America for the past two decades. Persistently glowing reviews only generate suspicion on the part of consumers, press, and investors, especially now when public trust is at its lowest, thanks to the series of accounting scandals that threw corporate credibility into the gutter.
When tripping over serious consequences of misrepresenting company data, improper conduct, or simple typographical errors in business documentations for example, it is imperative for companies to promptly deliver the news and clarify any surrounding ambiguities to every interested party - consumers, media, investors, analysts.
A clear example is Singapore Airlines, which ranks among the top 20 safest airlines in the world. In the wake of October-2000 crash at Taipei airport, the company immediately confirmed the accident and possible causes, releasing a list of deceased passengers to the press and victims' family members. A dreadful episode for one of the world's safest carrier, the accident apparently did not hurt its long-term image, according to John Trevett, a trainer of air-crash investigators at Cranfield University in England, as quoted by Time.
BusinessWeek regularly admits and posts printing errors and false information noticeably in the readers' page of its weekly issues, though it could have gotten easily by overlooking the errors or not publishing letters of critics and corrections from its readers. At the end of the day, the magazine only reinforces its brand as a trustworthy and credible business-information source.
We can also learn from the software giant Microsoft, which since the past two years has dominated media headlines with its announcement of flaws in its products along with the potential resulting damages. While such tactics obviously won't diminish its perceived strong-arm tactics, at the very least Microsoft spawns the sense of responsibility and concerns for consumers using its products.
In the end, disclosing mistakes and claiming responsibilities accordingly may actually reinforce or improve your brand. One thing we marketers should keep in mind is that negative publicity serves as a complement to positive PR ploys. A controllable dose won't harm your image, but doing it on a daily basis is a prescription for disaster.
Johann is an Internet Marketing Consultant at Microsoft The Business Internet Competency Center in Jakarta, Indonesia. You can reach him via email at email@example.com or visit his company's website http://www.mbicc.com and his online branding e-zine http://www.pranala.com