Reputation is without doubt a luxury brand's greatest asset. Compared with other industries, this asset can be highly susceptible to risk. In this blog we look at how to plan, manage and assess the impact that online reputation risk has within this industry.
Reputational risk can be difficult to assess and mitigate. Often luxury brands rely on their customer advocacy and loyalty to see them through issues and threats as they arise.
Factors typically associated with online reputation risk in the luxury industry include:
- Ethics, sustainability & wider corporate social responsibility issues
- Employee, executive or ambassador PR issues
In a 24/7 instant news world, companies tend to lack confidence in dealing with issues that are unforeseen and beyond their control. Third party and supply chain issues result in brands becoming “guilty by association”.
Activist or brand attacks or a PR issue with a celebrity ambassador or CEO cause significant problems for reputable luxury brands, with much more reputation to lose than a brand with lesser value.
With 3.5 billion of the world’s population online, its no wonder there’s more attention and resource allocated to managing and preparing for online reputation risk issues as these can escalate quickly. Below are some top tips on how to deal with it all.
How To Mitigate Your Online Reputation Risk
Moreso than with other industries, a bad day on social media and in the press will affect the value and perception of a luxury brand. Customers often remain loyal but there may be a time when something will be done to upset people.
1. Have a Plan
The first step of any social media activism response is to (ideally) create a plan in advance. You may not always know the details of an attack, but being consistent in the way that the brand deals with the attack is key.
- Prepare ahead of time a response suitable for a variety of social platforms;
- Create effective alerts (24/7) and escalation procedures across all social media channels (& territories if required);
- Work closely with internal PR, Legal and Corporate Affairs teams so the right teams are working in their area of expertise;
- Don’t assume social media teams are equipped to deal and manage reputational issues that can ultimately impact brand and company worth.
2. Agree A Plan Of Engagement - Or Not
Trying to engage with every individual commenting is a costly exercise. Identify the source(s) of the negative information and engage, where possible – this should show willingness to address concerns. Online petitions have become more popular over the last five years.
Change.org and SumofUs are examples of websites encouraging lobbying against brands and organizations online. Both of these sites are global and in the case of Change.org will correct incorrect content posted on its site communicating with members once an organization makes a change.
3. Communicate, Don’t Hide
A lack of communication leads to speculation. Be transparent with your community and apologize, don’t join the argument on the channels the protestors use to attack you. Your social media presence is much more visible than any store or head office. Be seen to investigate concerns, take their comments seriously and provide information.
4. Be Quick
Luxury brands have a global audience, which means social media is commenting and discussing brands 24/7 in multiple languages. Managing opinion across territories and through third party agencies needs to be done consistently in time of a crisis.
- Have an effective alerts set up to the right people, much can happen after 8 hours sleep and having an alert plan that covers your global social media accounts is key. Don’t wait until the morning after the incident;
- Respond to your audience as quickly as possible – in all the relevant territories;
- Use holding statements if an instant answer is not possible let your audience know when they can expect an update.
5. Assess Potential Impact
Volumes of negative comments need to be taken seriously. Assessing the impact and reach of your audience is essential to be able to consider whether a brand needs to respond, react or prepare for longer term reputational damage. A quick assessment is vital;
- Is the issue confined to one social platform with limited shares?;
- Issues extending across social platforms needs addressing asap;
- When press pick up on a situation or a situation goes viral across the open web, this has more likelihood to cause wider reputational damage and longer term financial risks to the brand and the wider company.
For further information on how Crisp’s service quickly identifies brand attacks and reputational issues get in touch with a social media risk experts today.