Crisis management is a preventative approach that every digital marketing team should implement as best practices protocol. Arranging a crisis communication policy before a problem is strategy to ensure that every member of an organization has clear guidance and supports the organizational values. Digital marketing and crisis management are a blend of public relations.
Diverse Teams Department-Wide
Policy creation for crisis management begins with product development departments and incorporates advertising and marketing departments policies. Sterin (2012) identifies that the Tylenol crisis of the 1980s did not have an established internal policy for managing emergencies, which was a tipping point for corporate crisis management strategy. A digital marketing team is a crucial part of managing a crisis but the team needs to have a clear idea of crisis management policy to promote organizational values. Dawley (2016) identifies guidelines that should be included in a crisis management policy including
- Guidelines for identifying the type and magnitude of a crisis
- Roles and responsibilities for every department
- A communication plan for internal updates
- Up-to-date contact information for critical employees
- Approval processes for messaging posted on social media
- Any pre-approved external messaging, images, or information
- A copy of the company-wide social media policy (p. 1)
These guidelines should be in place for a digital marketing team so that marketers can problem solve online while promoting the goals, values, and mission of an organization. A digital marketing team is equally as responsible for the image of a company so a policy that includes how to manage the image during a crisis is necessary for deescalating and controlling problems.
Preparation is Key
The Girl Scout motto “Be Prepared” (Girl Scouts, 2017) is both simple and effective. By comparing case studies of crisis management, a clearer strategy for future crisis management policies. Comparing and contrasting Odwalla Foods e.coli outbreak and Mattel toy recall offers digital marketing teams the ability to understand the importance of relationships and quick responses. Over the course of a decade, Mattel issued multiple recalls because toys manufactured in China did not meet American safety standards (Levick, 2007). Similarly, Odwalla Foods issued a recall after multiple injuries and death was caused by contaminated apple and carrot juice (Bhasin, 2011).
Both companies anticipated that the components within their products were manufactured to safety standards determined but the outcomes of unsafe products were unexpected. In 1996, Odwalla CEO Williamson issued an immediate recall, paid medical costs of affected consumers, and provided daily press briefing through multiple media sources after an e.coli outbreak (Bhasin, 2011). Although Mattel had similar strategy, 31 recalls from 1998 to 2007 (Levick, 2007) indicates that Mattel leadership chose low cost production over consumer safety.
Both the toy company and food company have to rely on the honesty of the materials distributor. The biggest issue that emerges is Mattel continued to produce toys that did not meet safety standards while Odwalla had one batch of contaminated product. Even though both companies experience a significant financial loss, the strategies employed by both companies were similar to crisis management policy guideline identified by Dawley, which was to keep people informed.
Crisis Communication and Teamwork
An evolving policy that outlines expectations provides digital teams guidance not only for behavioral expectations during a crisis but how to create marketing material before a crisis occurs. Preparing information for public distribution during a crisis can be the lifesaver because this action recognizes that department-wide unity can help quite digital information sharing. Furthermore, demonstrating concern, diligence, and acknowledgement during a crisis facilitates recovery after a crisis.
Bhasin, K. (2011, May 26). 9 PR Fiascos that were handled brilliantly by management. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/pr-disasters-crisis- management-2011-5?op=1/#johnson-and-johnsons-cyanide-laced-tylenol-capsules-1982- 1
Dawley, S. (2016, May 10). Social Media Crisis Management: How to Prepare and Execute a Plan. Hootsuite. Retrieved from https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-crisis- management/
Girl Scouts (2017). Traditions. Retrieved from http://www.girlscouts.org/en/about-girl- scouts/traditions.html
Levick, R. (2007, October 10). Lessons from the Mattel Crisis. Corporate Responsibility Magazine. Retrieved from http://thecro.com/topics/communications/lessons-from-the- mattel-crisis/
Sterin J. C. (2012). Mass Media Revolution. Pearson Education. Upper Saddle River, NJ.