Here’s how big brands combat online outrage

    If it feels like there is a steady stream of fresh outrage over consumer-brand gaffes, it may be because companies have become more adept at managing controversy than at pre-empting it.

    As The Wall Street Journal reports, over the past year, H&M , Adidas, Reebok, Mercedes-Benz, and many others have faced swift backlash for offensive products or ads.

    As the reach of social media amplifies brand missteps, companies are finding they must develop new tools to handle the fallout from global online criticism. A big part of the crisis-management equation lies in striking a judgment about when criticism should be acknowledged, products pulled and apologies issued and when a more hands-off approach is warranted.

    Corporate executives and communications experts say that the increasing speed at which controversy propagates has forced them to perfect the three-pronged rapid response: acknowledge, apologize, and investigate.

    What comes next can range from lying low to overhauling executive management, depending on the company and the severity of the outrage.  

    For example, H&M created a special diversity team a year after they made headlines for insensitivity in an advertisement, they pulled the product. When Mercedes-Benz caused a firestorm in China after a company Instagram post quoted the Dalai Lama, considered by Beijing to be a separatist, the company publicly apologized for the “deeply hurt feelings of the Chinese people and also our colleagues who work in China.” Read the full story.

    View Comments