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"So what exactly is a crisis?"

publishedalmost 2 years ago
2 min read

Welcome to the first edition of the Brand Preppers newsletters.

Today, we're going to be answering the question that is probably on your mind once you saw that I was starting a new newsletter...

"So what exactly do you mean by a crisis?"

A crisis is categorized as anything that could "negatively impact a company's operations or reputation."

In other words, a crisis could be anything from a natural disaster like an earthquake, a global pandemic (Thanks, COVID-19), or rioters storming the U.S. Capitol.

But you're a brand leader. Meaning if it's something that affects your company and makes you say "Oh $#%!", it's probably a crisis.

However, there are a group of people who think of crisis differently. Crisis communications expert Stephen Fink has a different perspective, saying that a crisis is:

A fluid and dynamic state of affairs containing equal parts danger and opportunity.

Essentially? Fink is saying that yes, a crisis is painful. But it's also a chance to rethink your strategy, get creative, and grow in ways you couldn't have even imagined.

Because we still don't know how 2021 is going to turn out (Hopefully better than 2020) I'll give you another example in history of a brand who turned a crisis into an opportunity.


Jack in the Box and the e.Coli Outbreak

In the early 1990s, fast food giant Jack in the Box ran a special promotion for a very discounted Monster Burger.

The good news? People love cheap burgers.

The bad news? More demand = lack of quality control, which led to a major e.Coli outbreak that hospitalized hundreds and killed a few kids.

Obviously, things had to change because all of a sudden, people were afraid to eat anything from Jack in the Box.

So management did the following:

  1. Created testing protocols for their beef and chucked (sorry, couldn’t resist) suppliers that didn’t meet their standards
  2. Started cooking their beef to order.
  3. Created some of the most memorable TV advertising with their Jack campaigns.

And slowly, the people of Washington state (and the rest of the nation) began to trust again.

Would Jack in the Box gone through all those efforts to rebrand without e.Coli? In my opinion, probably not. Who wants to change things when things are going right?

For more reading about crisis management and the e.Coli crisis at Jack in the Box, check out:

  1. Crisis Management: Planning for the Inevitable. I'll be honest. Fink gives a great definition of what a crisis is, but the rest of the book is full of case studies accompanied with "If only they did it the way I would do it" dialogue. Only pick up if you really wanna dig deep into crisis management.
  2. Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E.Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat. Someone in one of my workshops told me it was required reading for her job in the food industry.
  3. The Meaty Cheesy Boys campaign. My favorite Jack in the Box commercial of all time. (Come on. I had to put something not-so-damn-serious in this list.)

Wanna Go to the World's Largest Email Marketing Event?

If you happen to be an #emailgeek and free on January 28th, 2020, make sure you attend Mailcon 2021, a virtual conference on email marketing. I’ll be hosting a panel with marketers from brands like Americhem, Butterfly Network, and Pitney Bowes about how they pivoted their email strategy amidst a global pandemic.

Pssst! If cost is an issue, I have a limited number of tickets. Reply to this email asap if you want one.