Just a few weeks ago, Sony's Playstation network was hacked, compromising the identities and credit card numbers of millions of customers. The event stirred anti-Sony reaction worldwide among techies and gamers. What has Sony done to inform the global audience of tech consumers that it is ensuring the online gaming economy is secure?
Just a few days ago, The New York Times and other media reported on a brand crisis for the consumer review site, Yelp: underground entrepreneurs are selling fake 'good' restaurant and product reviews and corrupting Yelp's credibility. Haven't many consumers already wised up to spamming and astroturf of consumer reviews?
Protecting and managing brand reputation is a major issue for leaders and marketers in every business. A new book offers valuable strategies and tactics to help you protect your brand, manage risk, and stage a recovery from attacks in our hyper-connected info-economy.
In Brand Resilience: Managing Risk and Recovery in a High-Speed World (Palgrave 2011) by Jonathan Copulsky, chief marketing officer at Deloitte Consulting's Strategy and Operations group, you'll learn how to play brand defense and win. To do that, you'll be taking a deep dive into monitoring, using, and deploying social media to engage your customers, employees, advocates, and stakeholders.
Traditional marketing theory often relies on the metaphor of marketing as warfare, portraying the marketing executive as the general deploying troops and resources in a campaign to reach defined sequential objectives, to conquer market share. For Copulsky, the theory is out of date. Instead, Copulsky argues marketers now must think and act like counterinsurgents, drawing inspiration from the military's counterinsurgency manual. And he has a seven-step plan to guide you:
- Assess risks to your brand: you need to hone your risk intelligence and learn where and why brand attacks can happen. Scan the environment for brand risks resulting from changes to operations--licensing deals, new product launches, changes in suppliers, changes in pricing, new hires, outsourcing changes. When threats arise, they often source from customers, reviewers, gadflies, and ideologues.
- Galvanize your brand troops: Your entire team needs to engage in preventing and mitigating brand sabotage. In any organization, leadership has to educate, train, and motivate employees in this new aspect of employee communication and brand management. Companies need to write guidelines for using social media, and teach brand resilience as a competency. Kodak, for example, promotes a social media policy with ten rules reflecting "Kodak values", such as "keep your cool" and "heed security warnings and pop-ups." Yahoo issues a personal blog policy that includes legal parameters and best practices. Copulsky recommends your social media policy:
- acknowledges potential value of social media to the company and the individuals involved;
- highlights relevant legal issues;
- identifies core principles, particularly as they relate to privacy and transparency;
- spells out expectations for individual involvement, and aligns with expectations for employee conduct;
- asks employees to take on a positive role in protecting the brand.
5. Learn and adapt your brand defenses. Make each brand shock an opportunity to inform and motivate peers and superiors about the importance of maintaining brand defenses and resilience. Your mantra is to learn and adapt. Every time you experience a brand shock, ensure your team logs the incident, describes what happened, investigates the cause without assigning blame, formulates recommendations, assigns responsibility for implementation, and tracks progress.
6. Measure and track brand resilience. Measure customer views of your brand through a variety of sources, including posing as a customer, focus groups, surveys, and loyalty measurements. Track them through brand shocks to learn how they've been affected. Don't overanalyze data. Look for major swings from the norm. Your brand is almost always going to have a core of repeat and loyal customers, a regular turnover of new customers, and a broad middle swath of occasional customers. How are each of these cohorts responding to a brand shock?
7. Generate popular support. Educate peers and other divisions about the importance of brand resilience. Communicate, cultivate, and engage blogger, media, and consumer brand advocates who like to talk about and promote your company. It's hard to be an effective counterinsurgent when your passionate followers don't support you. Pay particular attention to grievances brand advocates may have, keep media informed, be open and over communicate.
What strategies have you used to recover from online attacks on your firm's reputation or its products and services? Are Copulsky's approaches realistic in smaller firms?
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