Why Your Franchise Needs a Crisis Plan

Great PR Will Help You Plan Ahead

Any business needs a crisis plan — especially a franchise brand. With location owners operating as the face of your franchise in their communities every day, with large numbers of employees spread across the country or even the globe, the chances rise that something could go wrong, that someone representing you could misstep in a disastrous way.

Microphones at franchise crisis press conference

Take Starbucks for example. In April 2018, a Starbucks manager in Philadelphia called law enforcement on two black men. The manager claimed the men were trespassing, but it turned out they were having a business meeting. This was after video of the arrest went viral and the public started to call out Starbucks for racist behavior.

Within two days of the arrest, the coffee franchise started issuing formal apologies, and two days after that, they scheduled time to close all stores for franchise-wide racial bias training.

The lesson here is that even though the corporate staff at Starbucks doesn’t condone racism, someone representing their brand acted in a way that many people perceived as racist. So, the entire franchise, from CEO Kevin Johnson to the barista in your neighborhood Starbucks, had to face the music.

A crisis plan is a crucial part of your franchise public relations strategy. How you deal with crisis says so much about your brand. Do it right, and your franchise may come out better than it went in. But handle a crisis wrong, and you may never recover.

Train for the Worst, Hope for the Best

Everyone in your organization, from the top down, needs some form of media training in case of a crisis, even if the only instruction is, “Don’t talk to the media.”

Before crisis strikes, designate one person within your organization as the crisis media contact. A public relations professional can identify and train this person on how to field questions in case of crisis, ensuring that your message stays open, honest and consistent.

Be Sincere

Your customers can spot a fake or insincere apology a mile away, and they will not be quiet about it. If the online world decides your apology is performative or that the steps you take to correct a problem aren’t enough, your brand will lose market share and credibility.

Although no one can plan for every circumstance, it is best to craft possible responses ahead of time with a clear head, not in the heat of the moment or under stress. A public relations professional can help you put these in place and fine-tune a sincere, relevant response if the time comes to use one.

Our crisis experts at Ripley PR want to help franchise brands like yours through the worst times — and celebrate with you through the best times. We have the skills and knowledge to help your brand weather any crisis and come out stronger on the other side. If you are interested in how we can help your franchise brand, call us at (865) 977-1973 or contact Ripley PR online today.

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Shannon Bryant

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