1-Minute Marketing Lesson: Crisis Communication

Be quick, clever, factual and always empathize 

For two years my wife and I have settled in once a week for a good cry. No, we’re not in group therapy. It’s not a new age method to achieve a deeper emotional connection. Nor is it that we’re big criers. It’s because we’re hooked on NBC’s This Is Us.

If you’re a fan, you get it. If you’re not, that’s ok; there’s still a marketing lesson here for you.

But before I go further – there’s a SPOILER ALERT coming up if you’re not caught up on the current season.

A few weeks ago, we finally learned the fate of America’s favorite TV dad, Jack, played by actor Milo Ventimiglia. Without going into too much detail, Jack dies after the Crock-Pot he used to make Super Bowl treats goes up in flames. It was an emotional show, and sure, we got misty eyed like 27 million other fans.

But that’s not the point of this article – the point is the public’s reaction and Crock-Pot’s response. After the show, fans were outraged and took to social media to express their anger at Crock-Pot. Some even started a movement to boycott Crock-Pot.

Wow, so unfair to poor Crock-Pot. All they did was make a legendary slow cooker and watch innocently as the events unfolded on the biggest show on TV. They were faultless and technically no response was necessary. But while they did no wrong, their brand had just taken a major hit. As did their stock.

For years to come, the Crock-Pot PR team’s response will be used in corporate communications classes to illustrate smart crisis communication management. While their response was simple, they did four things we should all keep in mind if we’re in a similar situation.

Four Crisis Communication Tips From Crock-Pot

  • They responded quickly: About 36 hours after the show aired they posted the following message on Facebook. Rather than leaving the public hanging on what they thought, they acted quickly. Smart.

crock pot and crisis communication

 

  • They were clever: They didn’t just stick to a canned message. They quickly partnered with NBC and Milo to create a pro Crock-Pot ad for the Super Bowl. Double smart.

  • They used facts (data) to prove their point: Sometimes facts and stats are your best ammunition. Crock-Pot used their safety data to prove their products are safe. Triple smart.
  • They empathized: In truth, no real people were injured or died on the show, but Crock-Pot understood that did not matter to fans. Their response expressed that they too were sad to see Jack die. Quadruple smart.

In the end, sure, we’re all still sniffling at the loss of Jack. But as marketers we can sit back and gain some relief knowing there are smart communications professionals out there who get it – they know that quick, clever, fact-driven and empathetic crisis communication is the key to success.