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Crisis Communication: Protecting the Brand

By Suzanne Spurgeon  March 7, 2011

Why is Crisis Communication so important for every business?  It's all about protecting the brand.  Warner Bros. and Christian Dior took bold steps in firing two big money-makers, but they really didn't have a choice.  In the case of Dior, there can be no excuse for the anti-Semitic remarks made by famed designer John Galliano.  True, a few of his fellow designers say they abhor the words, but sympathize with the man.  The public, I believe, has a different take and could easily boycott Dior. Oscar-winner Natalie Portman, the new face of a Dior perfume, certainly didn't mince words in her condemnation of Galliano.  Fresh on the heels of her win, Portman has a big platform.  

And could anyone blame Warner Bros. for saying enough is enough from Charlie Sheen?  Who knows what is going on in his mind, but the minds at Warner Bros. have to think about the bigger picture.  While Sheen keeps talking to any reporter who will listen, and tweeting to his heart's content; I believe the public will grow weary of his behavior.  His TV character had charm; real life is another matter.  

When companies face this kind of scrutiny in the public eye, every statement executives issue has the potential to make matters worse.  Behind the scenes many scenarios are being run and risks accessed.  How will the brand be affected if we do "A" instead of "B", or opt to wait it out and hope a bigger story comes along and knocks our troubles off the radar???  

Your company may not be a heavy weight, but you'll feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders when a crisis hits and the media latches on to the story and won't let go.  The first statement, media interview or news conference is key to maintaining or restoring your firm's reputation.  It really does pay to have your executives trained in Crisis Communication long before a crisis hits.  

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