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Fake news can be just as damaging as legitimately bad news. Crises are crises – even when they don’t really seem like they should be. A new consumer behaviour study states that over half of its respondents reported that they visit social media sites at least six times a day. And while social media are ideal platforms for digital marketers to cheaply and efficiently spread key messages about clients, they are also awash with fake news that can have a negatively impact.

 

Online, all the time

 

The 2019 Crisis Impact Report: How Consumers React to a Brand Crisis, which summarises the main messages of 2,000 buyers of all kinds of products, details how misinformation remains at scourge in the information age. The proliferation of social media has led to countess reports, blogs and posts on an endless variety of topics. Unfortunately, this means that untrue information about brands can spread with little notice. Professional crisis teams need to be ready to deftly counteract with facts and stories. Keep in mind that no two crises are identical; sometimes you simply have to go with your gut.

 

Do something; do the right thing

 

Consumers expect that their favourite companies will be first to learn of a problem and first to do something about it. Delay is associated with complicity, embarrassment, uncertainty or other unfortunate outcomes. A tactical delay can seem reasonable, yet often leads to deeper problems and smaller profits. Prudence is called for, but so is direct action and a consistent message spread far and wide, so as to limit any negative fallout from unwanted news. That being said, happily though, there’s enough information out there these days that things tend to be forgotten: the report emphasises how stories with negative news decrease by 70 per cent within four months after the bad news breaks. Happily enough, part of a successful strategy for rehabilitation a reputation is thus simply waiting out the clock without acerbating the situation.

 

Key moments for core messages

 

The thing about crises is that they are also windows of opportunity. Reinvention and refocusing on core principles is always a good idea, even in the good times, lest companies become overly complacent when rivals are hungrier.

 

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