4 examples of crisis management you can learn from

4 examples of crisis management you can learn from

There is a significant chance that your business will have to deal with a crisis at some point. You may not even see it coming. It may take the form of an unexpected event, such as a global pandemic or a natural disaster. Perhaps an online challenge using your product as a dangerous prop may negatively impact your business.

If a major crisis does happen, you’ll need to have a solid brand crisis management plan in place. Examples such as the Airbnb success story can provide you with an effective blueprint for navigating potential crises.

Poor crisis management methods can cause irreparable harm to your brand. Thankfully, we can learn from previous crises that have been handled positively. Here are some of the best and most successful crisis communication examples from the last few years.

KFC runs out of chicken

A nightmare public relations crisis became a reality for KFC early in 2018. Due to supplier issues, the brand ran out of its key ingredient: chicken. Unfortunately, this led to the company having to shut down more than half of its restaurants in the UK.

Crisis management

The handling of the KFC chicken shortage is PR crisis communication at its best. KFC used the power of social media as part of its crisis management strategy. They used it to open lines of communication and keep their customers informed at every stage.

They took ownership of the issue, apologising and quickly addressing any questions and concerns customers might have. The company’s response was to turn a negative story into a positive PR campaign, which helped preserve the brand’s reputation.

What you can learn from this crisis

This is a great example of how a positive brand crisis management plan can impact a crisis. KFC took the opportunity to respond quickly, turning a negative event into an opportunity for positive PR. They maintained a hands-on approach throughout, using emotion well and injecting the right amount of humour into their messages.



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Aldi’s caterpillar war with M&S

One of the most recent crisis management examples that was handled exceptionally well is the story of Cuthbert the Caterpillar. This remarkable story involves a rivalry between two supermarkets over two chocolate caterpillar cakes.

Colin the caterpillar has been a part of major British retailer M&S for decades. However, German-owned discount supermarket, Aldi, released their own version of the famous cake, calling it, Cuthbert the Caterpillar.

Marks and Spencer filed a lawsuit against Aldi to force the supermarket to take Cuthbert the Caterpillar off the shelves.

Crisis management

The way Aldi’s crisis management team responded to the lawsuit may go down in PR history. As part of their crisis management response, they posted a series of creative and hilarious social media posts.

The crisis management teams used Twitter to troll rival supermarket, M&S in several hilarious ways. One post even appeared to be live tweeting events from ‘the courtroom.’ They also posted a ‘courtroom sketch’ that showed Cuthbert the Caterpillar seemingly in court. All posts featured the hashtag #FreeCuthbert.

What you can learn from this crisis

Rather than going silent, or arguing on social media, Aldi used lighthearted humour in their crisis management plan. Their crisis management model quickly garnered public support for their cause. This led to M&S reaching a deal with Aldi and calling a truce over the rivalry.

The caterpillar cake example shows how positive crisis management plans can garner enormous public support for a brand. As part of the crisis management process, Aldi reacted quickly to the situation. They also built up a positive and humorous sentiment across their platforms, which helped them appeal to a wide audience.

The Aldi crisis communication response highlights the importance of taking control of the narrative early on. It shows how positive public opinion can often be your most effective tool to help you navigate a business crisis.

The Tide Pod challenge

The Tide Pod challenge is perhaps one of the most bizarre business crises of the last ten years. While many business crisis scenarios are often self-inflicted, there are some that arise through no fault of the company. This was the case for Procter and Gamble.

The Procter and Gamble crisis team had to deal with strange events involving their Tide Pods detergent capsules. The challenge called upon teenagers to film themselves eating laundry detergent Tide Pods online. The dangerous challenge quickly swept over social media, creating a crisis situation that required Procter and Gamble to intervene.

Crisis management

This was a crisis caused by someone else. However, the crisis manager still had to act quickly to protect the company’s reputation. Their crisis communications strategy involved creating a commercial featuring a well-known sports personality. It also involved using disclaimers on their website and warning people about the dangers of ingesting the detergent.

What you can learn from this crisis

The Tide Pod challenge is a textbook example of an unexpected crisis. Nobody could predict that teenagers would suddenly decide that eating Tide Pods was a good idea. However, the Procter and Gamble response is also a good example of why it’s important to prepare for unexpected events.

They understood that although the crisis wasn’t their fault, doing and saying nothing may have harmed their reputation. They responded in a timely and appropriate manner to tackle the issue before it spiralled out of control. Their quick crisis response helped them mitigate any negative impact and protect their reputation and company values.

Burger King’s not-so-meat-free burger

Veganism is perhaps the biggest food revolution the world has seen. In fact, the demand for plant-based foods has spawned a variety of popular meat alternatives. Many restaurants have jumped on the vegan bandwagon, including Burger King, who released their plant-based Impossible Whopper in 2019.

Unfortunately, the UK version of the Impossible Burger was found to be unsuitable for vegans. It’s served with mayonnaise and cooked on the same grill as meat burgers. They faced a backlash, which risked customer loyalty. Even though they had a disclaimer on their website stating that the new burger isn’t vegan, activists took out a lawsuit against them.

Crisis management

Burger King’s crisis communications plan involved a quick response to confirm that plant-based burgers were not meant for meat eaters. Instead, they stated that the burgers were intended for flexitarian customers who want to reduce their meat consumption.

The lawsuit was dropped. The disclaimer allowed Burger King to get ahead of any issues to solve the problem before it got out of hand. The brand also confirmed that their Rebel Whopper is plant-based, but also might suffer from some cross-contamination issues due to cooking processes.

What you can learn from this crisis

Crisis communication examples like this one highlight the importance of getting ahead of a problem before a crisis occurs. Crisis prevention is often the best crisis communication plan.

If we can learn anything from these examples of communications crisis management, it’s that effective crisis management strategies can make a huge difference. In fact, it can turn an unprecedented world event into one of the most profound business success stories.

Managing your own crisis

Do you have a brand crisis management plan in place? Get the support you need to protect your company’s reputation in the event of an organisational crisis: [email protected] or call 0117 905 1177.