In a crisis, DM is the answer

Direct marketing can offer brands plenty – cost efficiency, impressive returns on investment and targeting opportunities few other channels could match – it is also the best way to limit long-term damage when your brand is facing a reputational hit.

Russell Parsons

The corporate world has been beset by crises of late. Barclays, O2, Britvic and NatWest have all suffered hits to their brands this, err, summer.

When it comes to managing their reputation, each has employed a host of channels. Newspapers published an open letter from Barclays at the weekend with a promise to get on with the important job of serving customers’ needs. NatWest has been running daily updates in the press on the progress it has been making in dealing with the technical problems that left many customers empty handed, while the O2 PR machine went into overdrive to provide updates to the wider world on the network outage.

The thing is, much of this activity is about managing corporate reputation. It is as much about how companies are perceived by opinion formers – investors, press and prospective customers – as it is about managing the relationship the brand in question has with its most important constituent, its customer.

Direct to customer communication, first though expedient channels such as email followed by in-store leaflets and letters to customers is the way to inform and, where necessary, rebuild and repair that relationship.

If done properly with the appropriate level of humility where necessary, it will provide a brand with the tools to claw back reputational ground lost .

PR, press and social media are a great way to manage a crisis in the early stages but it is DM that will ensure than any wounds suffered by a brand will be healed.

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