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Volume 31, Issue 4

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Monday, 17 November 2014 06:00

Thinking Beyond the Typical Threat

Written by  Vicki Thomas

Written by: Vicki Thomas

Think about your company and it’s brand, product, or service. Now think of the image that you work hard to communicate with your clients, investors, and future customers. You’ve developed a marketing and communication strategy that highlights the benefits, features, and good that you product or service offer.

So how does this relate to BC/DR? Well, BC/DR doesn’t just apply to hurricanes, power outages, earthquakes, and floods…

Social Media

It also applies to customer relations. This is a new shift in thinking about BC/DR but one that is highly relevant considering the impact that social media and digital media can have on your brand, company, product and service.

Gone are the days of having the time to carefully cultivate a message in response to a negative news report or customer complaint letter. Now, you’re receiving customer feedback instantly thanks to Twitter, Facebook, online review sites, instant news sites, YouTube, Instagram and blogs.

So yes, it can be a disaster when your Twitter feed is overwhelmed with negative Tweets in response to an advertising campaign. Think of the trickle-down effect: bad reviews/comments, consumer backlash, reduction in sales, struggles to make quarterly goals, tension from investors, etc.

The clothing company, The Gap, is still dealing with the negative response to its November 11 Remembrance Day promotion that it advertised to Canadian shoppers. This promotion featured the following, Remembrance Day Deal: $19.99 Puffer Vests. This promotion was posted on Twitter and emailed to many Canadians - the backlash was immediate with responses on social media and with many media outlets picking up the story.

@CTVCalgary@nenshi An email from The Gap. How has Remembrance Day become a shopping event?? So disappointing!

@Gap Remembrance Day (Veterans Day US) is not in any conceivable way a marketing opportunity. WTF guys smarten up.

How would you respond to such Tweets? Think of how you can apply your BC/DR knowledge to ensuring that this type of publicity does not continue and get worse. While The Gap did not respond to media requests, spokesperson Kari Shellhorn sent a statement to the CBC stating:

"we did not intend to offend anyone and we apologize if that has been the case."

About the ad specifically, Shellhorn said: "We fell short in our recent Gap Factory marketing email and we are committed to doing better in the future.

Do you think this is an adequate response? In cases like this, it helps to put yourself in the shoesof the consumer. The same holds true when it comes to what we typically consider to be a disaster or threat, for example, think of an early winter power outage - when youre putting together you communication plan, think of how your customers in the midst of the first snowstorm of the year will be feeling about your company when they are unable to heat their homes. Not only does the power outage require a BC/DR plan, the posts, Tweets, blogs, comments that will be posted online also require a BC/DR plan.

This past Sunday, the company Clif Bar, made the first page of the New York Times Sports section. That the New York Times, devoted the front page of the Sports section to an article about how Clif Bar recently ended its sponsorship of five climbing athletes, speaks to the power of customer relations and service. Early last week, Clif Bar, the maker of sports nutrition products and a big supporter of athletes, announced that it would no longer be sponsoring five high-profile athletes who specialize in climbing, highlining, B.A.S.E jumping and free climbing. The response to the end of this sponsorship, went viral very quickly with the company experiencing negative comments on Twitter and Facebook. In an effort to stem this response, Clif Bar released an open letter which began with:

Over the past few days, theres been a heated dialogue about our recent decision to withdraw sponsorship of several climbers. Weve watched, listened and been humbled by the conversation, and wanted to share with you where we are on this topic. Our hope is that we can provide clarity around our climbing sponsorships and to demonstrate our continued commitment to supporting this great sport and the climbing community.

This is a clear indication that Clif Bar realized it made a few mistakes in how it released this news and handled it with the climbing community. The letter goes on to further explain the logic behind the decision and the companys continued support of athletes in adventure-based sport.

Why did Clif Bar respond the way it did and why did The Gap respond the way it did? Its really hard to know for sure. Both are large companies with an international presence - so why the disparity in how they handled negative consumer feedback?

What is really important here, is the lessons you can take from these two examples (and others listed below) and how you can incorporate a strong communication response to your BC/DR plan. Remember if you sell widgets and the response to your widgets on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other sites is suddenly negative - you are in fact dealing with a disaster and a threat. How will you communicate with your customers and ensure that your companys revenues and future are not hurt by this threat?

Its time to think beyond fires, floods, and hurricanes when it comes to threats and your business.

To read more about the examples above and others, use the following links: