Influencer marketing amplified with effective public relations tactics can be one of the most effective ways to engage consumers in real time
11 March, 2023
By Danish Malik
Public Relations (PR) and Influencer Marketing have become increasingly popular for building authentic customer relationships, connecting with a target audience and telling the brand story. They have also become important components of many brands' crisis management plans, proving to be quite successful strategies.
In times of crisis, influencer marketing amplified with effective public relations tactics can be one of the most effective ways to engage consumers in real time.
How major brands come under the radar during the crisis
As digital platforms open the window for candid feedback and easy access to companies and their leaders, brands are criticised for their negative impact on society or for hurting sentiments. Such infamous incidents have been increasingly common in edtech, fintech and food tech industries and have seriously impacted a company's brand value and perception.
From Paytm being trolled for its underwhelming stock market debut to Zomato being cornered for spending huge money on ads featuring big Bollywood stars (Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif), instead of ensuring fair pay to its delivery staff, an increasing number of consumer internet companies have faced brand crises due to various reasons.
Marketing and branding experts believe that social media platforms are facilitating people's grievances and concerns to be heard at a lightning speed. It was impossible to accomplish this before the internet when the crisis primarily stemmed from mainstream media's reporting of the brand (by identifying aggrieved customers or negative opinions among some people).
Effective strategies for brands to mitigate the crisis
These days new-age startups express their viewpoints and they tend to be more open in their assertions. These companies, in some instances, have pushed the envelope more than traditional companies to attract attention, initiate conversations, etc.
In addition to advertising campaigns, internet companies face product and service-related challenges. Social media users often criticise delivery partners like Amazon and Flipkart for delivering incorrect or absurd products. Most of the time, these issues snowball across digital platforms, resulting in negative perceptions by customers.
In such circumstances, companies need to invest more in data insights and social listening on their platforms (via reviews and feedback) and social media platforms (talking about brands).
Influencers can play an important role especially when it comes to creating positive online conversations and countering negative feedback.
How Influencer Marketing can be used to address such crises in the 21st century
Several companies came under the limelight for all the wrong reasons. Let us look at some of the major brand crises and how the companies handled them via influencers and celebrities alike and amplifying their reach by announcing collaborations through effective PR strategies:-
The crisis: The noodles contained higher than permitted lead levels.
Crisis Management Strategy: As a result of the smart use of social media during the crisis, Maggi prevented further damage by reassuring and informing customers to keep them buying the noodles in the future.
However, The latest Nestlé India ad campaign for Maggi Veg Atta Noodles highlights how it allows mothers to delight their families with 100 per cent atta cake and vegetables. As part of its 40th-anniversary campaign, the brand partnered with renowned actress Konkona Sen Sharma.
The crisis: The online food ordering and delivery app's recent outdoor ad campaign sparked a media frenzy. One such quirky advertisement was MC.BC (macaroni and cheese, butter chicken) caused controversy.
Crisis Management Strategy: After angry internet users reacted to the ad, Pankaj Chaddah, the co-founder of Zomato, apologised and promised to remove it immediately. In the face of negative publicity, the brand dealt with it head-on and did not deny it. Since then, Zomato has worked with several celebrities and influencers to promote their values and message of being homely yet quirky.
Zomato's user generated content (UGC) includes videos and medleys from influencers like Akshay Nayar, Kareema Barry and Sejal Kumar, and stand-up comedians like Samay Raina and Rahul Dua. Influencers, their parents and employees conversed while trying new food items in videos prepared by Zomato. The videos show conversations and content that feature Zomato's delivery personnel as well, combining it all as "Humans of Zomato '' in a spectacular attempt to use influencer marketing to mitigate its negative social media backlash.
Businesses will inevitably face crises at some point, and how they deal with them will impact their reputation. Brands can benefit from influencer marketing to return to the limelight. In numerous cases, businesses have collaborated with influencers to overcome such situations, by creating engaging user-generated content (UGC) and augmented through effective PR outreach to add a unique voice to the brand and improve search results.
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