Entrepreneur Bad buzz: how to hold your line in times of crisis

Bad buzz: how to hold your line in times of crisis

The primary characteristic of a crisis is that it is unlike anything else. In the business world, a crisis can result from an industrial accident, like Deepwater Horizon; a bad buzz, for example when an Internet user realized that a naked man was walking around in one of the photos on the La Redoute site, in the middle of a page for children’s t-shirts. […]

Another strong characteristic of the crisis is the short time we have to answer. Also, to face it, it is necessary to prepare for it. Preparing the ground means always having in mind who we are, what we do, why we do it, what we bring. […]

Listen for weak signals

Secondly, don’t play dead. When, in 2012, Free launched its mobile telephony offers at discounted prices, the reactions of customers of incumbent operators were not long in coming. Insults come from all sides. Unlike Orange and SFR, which close their Facebook pages or do not respond, Bouygues decides to respond to each comment (namely 5,000 per day instead of a few hundred), even the worst, and often with humor. Result: Bouygues does in the end much better than its competitors, saves a little time to organize itself and offer an appropriate tariff response, and in the end not only loses fewer customers… but wins back some among the dissatisfied members of Free and Orange !

The ideal is even toanticipate the crisis, when possible. It was thus Findus who revealed the case of horse meat in lasagna, before the media took it up. Result: a few months later, Findus sales increased by +4% in a market down 40%… Also, watch for weak signals that tell you about the team’s state of mind regarding your project. Forge links as early as possible with one or two people from each team, who will be able to give you the clues of a latent crisis. Especially since the more you tackle the problem at the root, the more you will put yourself in a position to take the time to respond. Nothing is worse than deciding under pressure. To take the example of La Redoute: the mail order company of course immediately removed the photo and offered a flat apology, but above all he patiently concocted his response. A month after the naked man scandal, he challenged netizens by embedding numerous “mistakes” in photos in his online catalog, daring them to find them. The game was a real success.

Beyond the timing, what matters above all is to be transparent. Since you defend a project based on authenticity, where ethics are central, it’s the least we can ask of you. In a crisis, sincerity always wins in the long run. […] With a bit of luck, your allies will then be your first defenders. This is what Ferrero experienced when Ségolène Royal accused Nutella of contributing, through the massive use of palm oil, to a process of deforestation in Southeast Asia. Because the Communication Department had for a long time produced numerous content demonstrating the brand’s commitment to the environment, including the rational use of palm oil and the reforestation programs undertaken, including with NGOs, Nutella fans have mobilized. The Edelman agency was able to calculate that the positive and negative comments were balanced on the web and social networks… So, equipped with these precious supports, and above all with your strategic logic, you can continue your adventure.

Patrice Laubignat (left) and Philippe Guiheneuc (right) are the authors of the book “Zero Marketing”, published by 1Min30 editions in June 2021, 150 pages, 19.90 euros.
– Photo DR


A marketer for more than 25 years, Patrice Laubignat is an author, speaker, emotional marketing consultant and teacher for the Inseec group, lSCOM and ESSCA since 2006. Passionate about the customer/brand relationship, he created EforBrands to advise brands and support managers towards human marketing.
Philippe Guiheneuc has evolved for 30 years between marketing, sales and customer relations. He combines business experiences – he is currently Akio’s marketing director – with teaching. They are the authors of the book “Zero Marketing”, published by 1Min30 editions in June 2021, 150 pages, 19.90 euros.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *