Hardly a week goes by without a well-known company facing a media crisis, and this week was no exception. Apple is in the news after requesting the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to audit several of their largest suppliers after fears that the factories are not safe. This is not the first time that this story has hit the headlines – in recent years there has been a number of fatal accidents and suicides at those factories.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said: “Workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment … The inspections now under way are unprecedented in the electronics industry, both in scale and scope.”
While many other brands also use the factories, it’s Apple that has tended to be the focus for people’s concern. Perhaps this is because of how well known the brand is or even how wealthy the business has become (the company is worth $460bn and its shares passed the $500 mark in the past week). But whatever the reason, it seems that Apple can no longer ignore the pressure it is coming under to act on the safety record of those suppliers.
We are all far more used to Apple executives facing the cameras with confidence – when they launch a brand new product – but they will now have to face some tougher questions about the way their business operates.
So, when it comes to media crises, what is the best way to handle them?
During the Blackberry blackouts of last October, spin doctor Alastair Campbell said: “Explain while you fix. Apologise when you have. Recompense after.”
We agree. You have to:
1. Act fast to solve the crisis
But it’s vital that you communicate, honestly and openly while you do.
2. Tell your customers you are sorry
And mean it.
3. Pay compensation if necessary
…then ensure it is handled promptly.
Problems and even disasters can befall any business, but the way you deal with these moments will make the difference between destroying your reputation and keeping it intact.
Will Edwards is managing director of media training consultancy Bluewood Training