Target is currently in a windstorm of controversy. The question of the day is ‘How are they handling this crisis that could happen to any large retailer?’ And what lessons should other large and small organizations learn from this nightmare.
1. Revisit your crisis communication plan. Or, create a crisis communication plan if you do not have one. We all hope that our organizations do not have to face controversy. Unfortunately, many when do and it happens when you least expect it. You should review your plan quarterly. When people need to go into action to correct the situation, you want to make sure these individuals are still in that role. In many large companies, people change roles regularly. This quickly puts your plan out of date.
2. Control the situation, do not let the situation control you. One hug mistake made by Target is letting the media break the story. Target’s team should have immediately devised talking points to tell the story as they wanted it to be told. Now, it seems like Target is having to run from behind to manage the story.
3. Constantly communicate with your consumers. Target has a very loyal fan base. Similarly to our own customers and clients, Target’s customers would be more understanding if they were getting constant updates about what is going on to rectify the situation. I am almost certain that I used my Target Red Card during the days that they mentioned and I have yet to receive an email or notification about what I should do.
4. Use social media to your advantage. Social media is a great way to respond directly to your consumers. It is also a great way to listen to how your consumers are feeling about a particular situation. Target is taking a beating on Facebook. They are giving 10% off this weekend, but it looks like customers do not feel that it is enough. But, from Target’s perspective, can they really do enough to satisfy some customers. It looks like they will have to take a loss and gradually earn the trust of their audience back.
5. Keep your employees in the loop. Employees can be your biggest ambassadors, but only if they know exactly what is going on. Your employees do not need to hear the information from the media, they need to hear it from their managers. The employees on the front lines also need to be well versed on how to handle the comments, concerns, and complaints that they are going to get from customers over the next few weeks.
What lessons have you learned from this incident? Leave us a note in the comments section. I am sure that this is a situation that we will be watching into the New Year.
If you need help with your crisis communication and PR efforts to rebuild your reputation, give us a call! Selsi Enterprises would love to help!
Selsi Enterprises CEO
Additional articles about the topic:
A Message from the Target CEO (Behind the Scenes at Target)
Target’s PR Nightmare: Customer Service Gridlock (MarketWatch)